WALKING IN THE LIGHT

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

By Dr. Robert R. Seyda

FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN

CHAPTER TWO (Lesson XXIII) 04/23/21

2:6a Those who say they live in union with God must conduct their life the way Jesus did.

EXPOSITION

This verse is not out of line with anything Jesus taught His disciples.[1] After all, the Psalmist did say that just as right and good went before our Lord. It made a clear path for His footsteps.[2] In the same manner, proper and sound do the same for all believers. Jesus even said so.[3] And the Apostle Paul believes that we can be an excellent example for others. As he told the Ephesians, live a life filled with love, follow the example of the Anointed One. He loved us and offered Himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.[4] That’s why the Apostle Peter wrote his constituents that it’s all part of Christian living. That’s why the Anointed One suffered for us. That made Him our example, and we must become examples by following in His footsteps.[5]

It is uncertain whether the Apostle John had as much insight into the writings of the Greek philosophers as did the Apostle Paul.[6] But many of their sayings made their way into conversations and teachings of those days, even among the Jews. For instance, Aristotle wrote that no function of humanity has as much permanence as virtuous activities (many consider these to be more durable than knowledge of the sciences).[7] They are more valuable or sustainable because those who have joy in the Lord spend their lives continuously in such virtuous accomplishments. For this very reason, we must never forget them.

COMMENTARY

Richard Rothe (1799-1867) brings up an essential truth regarding a person who claims they are in fellowship with the Lord by keeping His commandments. They must remember that Jesus did not make these suggestions or ideas. It is their obligation, their moral and spiritual duty. As Greek Philosopher Aristotle put it: “They must and are bound to do so.” From the fact that the Anointed One is in the Christian and the Christian is in the Anointed One, they walk together. So, remarks Rothe there follows that the fellowship of both means they act and walk the same way by a natural necessity.[8] Look at it this way; the police pull a person over for erratic driving because they drove on the wrong side of the road, went through red lights, breezed past stop signs, ignored the speed limit, never used their turn signals, etc., only to have them claim “they were following the law.”

As Alfred Plummer (1841-1926) sees things, the Greek philosopher Aristotle, mentioned by Rothe, said that “In morals knowledge without practice is worthless: not speculation, but conduct.” It is the aim of both the Christian and this heathen philosopher. It sets a very high standard of virtue. Furthermore, it clearly states that only those who are virtuous can perform such noble acts. First, they do so knowingly, not accidentally; secondly, they do them deliberately because the worthy deed is good in itself, not because it makes them look good; and thirdly, to do these virtuous acts with a firm and unwavering purpose. In the Christian’s case, they do these deeds not to get honor and applause from their fellow humans but to give praise and glory to the Anointed One who saved them.[9]

John Flavel asks a serious question: “Does the Anointed One exercise such a kingly power over the souls of all subdued by the Gospel?” O then let all that are under the Anointed One’s government walk as the subjects of such a King, says Flavel. Imitate your King; the examples of kings are very influential upon their citizens. Your King has commanded you not only to take His yoke upon you but also to learn of Him.[10] And John says here in verse six, the ones who say they belong to the Anointed One should live the same kind of life Jesus lived. Also, the prophet said, men made it very hard for Him and caused Him to suffer, yet He did not open His mouth. They led Him like a lamb scheduled for slaughter.[11] Furthermore, “Tell the people of Jerusalem, ‘Look, your King is coming to you. He is humble, riding on a donkey[12] – riding on a donkey’s colt.”[13]

Does this become the kingdom of the Anointed One, asks Flavel? Your King was self-denying; He could refuse any outward comforts, ease, honor, life, to serve His Father’s will, and accomplish your salvation.[14] Therefore, should His servants be self-centered and self-seeking persons that will expose His honor and hazard their souls for the trash of current times? God forbid! Your king was painful, challenged, and diligent in fulfilling His work.[15] O Lord, don’t let us become lazy and lethargic. Let us follow the pattern of our King: this will give us comfort now and boldness on Judgment Day.[16] If our king could deny Himself of all the blessings, He rightly deserved to purchase our salvation, do we have any excuses for not doing the same?[17]

John Bunyan points out that all were able to forsake immoral living by calling on the name of the Anointed One, as the Apostle Paul told Timothy.[18] Those that Paul encourages to are bold enough to say, as the Apostle of John does here, that they are in Him, abide in Him, and consequently are made partakers of the benefits in Him. And the reason is that the Anointed One is a fruitful root and freely dispenses the sap of grace into the branches.[19]  So then, those who claim in the name of the Anointed One God’s benefits must be counted as being in union with the Anointed One and He in them. They prove this by living as He lived. If they are branches of the True Vine, it identifies them as belonging to Him by their fruit.[20] [21]

In one of Spurgeon’s devotions, he bases his thoughts on what John says in verse six. He starts with a question: “Why should Christians imitate the Anointed One?” They should do it not only for His sake but for their sake as well. If they desire to have a spiritually healthy soul – if they would escape the sickness of sin and enjoy the vigor of growing grace – let Jesus be their model. If they would drink the communion cup until it is empty; if they would enjoy holy and happy communion with Jesus; if they would rise above the cares and troubles of this world, let them walk even as He walked. There is nothing that can assist your walk towards heaven with good speed more than wearing the image of Jesus on your heart to rule all its motions. It is when the power of the Holy Spirit enables you to walk with Jesus in His very footsteps that you are most happy and most known to be the sons of God. Peter, standing afar off, [22] is both unsafe and uneasy.

Next, says Spurgeon, striving to be like Jesus for religion’s sake. What a pity, O Christian faith! Cruel enemies have targeted you. But they were not half as dangerous as some considered your friends. Who are these so-called companions who made new wounds in the hands of the Anointed One? Individual liberal professors who used the dagger of hypocrisy. The wolf who entered inside the fold dressed in sheep’s clothing.[23] They are more feared than the roaring lion outside.[24] No weapon is half as deadly as the Judas-kiss.[25] Smug teachers who are unsure of their faith injure the Gospel more than the sneering infidel.

But, continues Spurgeon, what about striving to be like Jesus for His sake, matching His example? Brother and Sister Christian, do you love you’re Savior? Is His name precious to you? Is His cause dear to you? Would you like to see the kingdoms of the world become His? Is it your desire to glorify Him? Do you long to win souls for Him? If so, imitate Jesus; be an “epistle of  the Anointed One, known and read by everyone.”[26]

George Swinnock (1627-1673) says that one purpose for the Anointed One’s incarnation and life in the flesh was to set an exact pattern for our lives in the Spirit. “The Anointed One suffered for us. It shows us we are to follow in His steps.”[27] All the actions of the Anointed One are instructions to a Christian. His works were either ethical or interceding or both, in the Christian who imitates Him. His noble deeds involved exercising the same grace in carrying out His mission for our sake. He resisted the same temptations, dealt with similar corruption, died to sin, raised to spiritual life in the natural. None can parallel the life of the Anointed One, says Swinnock, but every new creature imitates the Anointed One in their life. The same mindset exists in all the saints regenerated in the Anointed One. Thus, they have the same will, the same affections; they love what He loved; they detest what He detested; what pleases Him, pleases them; what grieved His spirit, grieves their soul. Just as the children of the devil act like their father, as unholy as he is profane, so the children of God are like their everlasting Father, holy because He is holy. They do not do this on their own but by the Anointed One living in them.[28]


[1] See John 15:4-5

[2] Psalm 85:13

[3] John 13:15

[4] Ephesians 5:2

[5] 1 Peter 2:21

[6] See Acts of the Apostles 17:28

[7] Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, Bk. I, 10

[8] Rothe, Richard: The Expository Times, op. cit., November 1890, p. 45

[9] Alfred Plummer: The Preacher’s Complete Homiletical Commentary, op. cit., p. 259

[10] Matthew 11:29

[11] Isaiah 53:7

[12] Ibid 62:11

[13] Zechariah 9:9

[14] 2 Corinthians 8:9; Philippians 2:1-8

[15] See John 9:3

[16] 1 John 4:17

[17] John Flavel:  The Fountain of Life, op. cit., Sermon 16, p. 198

[18] 2 Timothy 2:9

[19] Cf. Psalm 104:16

[20] Matthew 7:16

[21] John Bunyan: Practical Works, Vol 4, Ch. 1, p. 80-81

[22] Matthew 26:58; Mark 12:54

[23] Matthew 7:15

[24] 1 Peter 5:8

[25] Matthew 26:48-49; Mark 14:43-45; John 18:3

[26] Charles Spurgeon: Devotions, op. cit., p. 277

[27] 1 Peter 2:21

[28] The Works of George Swinnock: Nichol’s Series of Standard Divines, Puritan Period, published by James Nisbet and Company, Dublin, 1868, Vol. III, Ch. II, p. 232

About drbob76

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