WALKING IN THE LIGHT

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

By Dr. Robert R. Seyda

FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN

CHAPTER TWO (Lesson XXIV) 04/26/21

2:6 If we say we live in God, we must live the way Jesus lived.

Samuel E. Pierce (1746-1829) is disturbed that anyone would feel it is inconceivable that anyone should feel apprehensive about God’s everlasting Gospel not being complete with all-sufficient holiness to maintain and establish a lifestyle of holy living. It fully and effectually operates on the renewed mind to produce its most blessed and glorious effects. Through the Gospel, we believe in the Father’s everlasting love, the salvation of the Son of God, and the distinctive personality of the Holy Spirit. It is He who sanctifies the recipients of God’s grace, getting them ready for eternal glory. It takes place when He has intimate and blessed communion with the believer. Not only that, but it allows them to proclaim their allegiance to Him openly through their mutual acts of grace.[1]

Thomas Scott (1749-1821) shares his opinion that while we seek for grace to benefit from the intercession and atonement of our heavenly Advocate and encourage our fellow Christians, we should remember that “He is the Reconciler, not only for our sins” but those of the whole world. Therefore, any sinner anywhere willing to accept salvation will become partakers of God’s grace and forgiveness. Also, we should desire and endeavor by all means of divine power to be instruments in bringing others to share with us in spreading the Gospel to all nations.[2]

Joseph Benson (1749-1821) points out that the Nicolaitans (“worldly-Christians”) and Gnostics (“know-it-alls”) boasted that they were the objects of God’s love and sure of obtaining eternal life despite the fact they lived habitually partaking of the most criminal sensual indulgences. They claimed this merely because they possessed the knowledge of the true God and of His mercy in forgiving people’s sins. In this boasting, the Apostle John declared them liars, either because they said what they knew to be false, or at least what was in itself most false. But whoever keeps God’s word – sincerely endeavors to live in obedience to all His commands; in Him verily is the love of God – reconciled and perfected in us through the Anointed One.[3]

William Kelly (1821-1906) aims at Christians’ living and its shortcomings. He confesses that we all know as a matter of fact how easy it is to slip back, how readily we forget the Lord for a little while, how inclined we are to allow the activity of our fallen human nature to take control. That is not fully abiding in Him. But the Apostle John does not give up offering modifications. He looks at principles and fundamentals as absolute. Anyone who refuses to look at the whole truth gives up faith for feeling. How can such people understand the validity of the Anointed One? They must be fully committed to His work. Grace must be unconditional for it to profit a ruined sinner.

If God justifies me, says Kelly, it is not questionable. If God justifies the ungodly, it is as absolute as His giving eternal life in the Anointed One. And the believer has eternal life in order to obey as well as to enjoy fellowship with the Father and His Son. God depends on this to impact the conscience, for there is no higher claim than that being in union with the Anointed One. It is not the satisfaction of knowing that we are in communion with Him but that He makes His a home for every joy and sorrow, every danger and difficulty. For this is to abide in Him. If it is that way with us, we ought to live as He lived. But is it so in deed and truth? We see the failure of genuinely abiding in Him reveals itself in the shortcomings of our Christian walk. But as Christians, we own the Anointed One as our standard, although it may humble us. Nor do we pretend that we walk in the measure of the Anointed One’s walk but by grace seek to walk after His manner.[4]

William Alexander (1824-1911) points to the Apostle John’s hatred of people not being honest with each other, lying in every form, which leads them to claim as Christians to have a perfect union between their outward profession and the inward possession. When a person brags, it is a danger signal to those who are Christians outwardly. It is the “take notice” of a hidden falseness. They who claim, possibly whose boast, they abide in the Anointed One have contracted a moral debt of far-reaching significance.

John seems to pause for a moment says Alexander. He points to a picture in a page of the scroll beside him the image of the Anointed One in the Gospel drawn by himself; not a vague magnificence, a mere harmony of color, but a likeness of absolute historical truth. In their daily walk, pilgrims who possess the Gospel have vowed to walk as the Pilgrim of Eternity walked. The very depth and intensity of feeling soften the Apostle’s voice. Instead of the beloved Hebrew name, John uses a reverential Greek pronoun autos (“He” in KJV), which belongs to the Anointed One in the vocabulary of the Epistle.[5] Some English translations leave no doubt by rendering it “the Anointed One” – Christ, taking away any doubt John was referring to as our example.

Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892) preached a sermon using verse six as his text. In that sermon, he says that these words of the Apostle John are exactly what every Christian should say. No one can be a Christian unless this is true of them and cannot fully enjoy their faith unless they know for sure that they are in the Anointed One and can boldly testify so. We must be in the Anointed One and abidingly in Him, or else we are not saved. Our union with the Anointed One makes us Christians: by being in partnership with Him as our life, we are spiritually alive – living by God’s favor. We are in the Anointed One, as the manslayer was in the city of refuge.[6] I hope that we can say we abide in Him as our sanctuary and shelter, says Spurgeon. We fled to find refuge in Him, who is the hope set before us in the Gospel, even as David and his men sheltered themselves in the caves of Engedi,[7] so we hide in the Anointed One.

Spurgeon concludes by telling his audience that a person wrote to him after the sermon to say that he painted their portrait but cannot finish it until he sees them. Certainly, you cannot paint a portrait of the Anointed One in your life unless you see Him – see Him clearly, see Him continually. You may have a general notion of what the Anointed One looks like, and you may put a good deal of color into your copy, but I am sure you will fail unless you spiritually see the original. To achieve that, you must get to commune with Jesus.[8]

John James Lias (1834-1923) notes that the Apostle John’s language changes. He speaks no longer of just knowing God or having some fellowship with Him. He digs deep into the central truth of the Christian faith. That is, the Christian who is in union with their Lord and Savior are, “Those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love Him. That is how we know we are living in Him.”[9] Another way to illustrate this is having a friend who is always talking about being happily married and speaks fondly of their beautiful spouse. However, you find out they do not live together, nor have they ever met each other; it was all done over the internet. Surely, you would question the validity of their claim. The same is true of those who profess they are part of the bride of the Lord Jesus but have never met Him and are not living in union with Him.

George Findlay (1849-1919) notes that the Apostle John admits to the possibility of a lapse from grace by one or another of His “little children.” He shows that for this unfortunate individual, relief is made possible by the advocacy of the Anointed One. But this is a provision of which the stubborn human heart may take needless advantage. Upon hearing what John just wrote, a tempted Christian might say to themselves: “There is hope for the backslider! I’m not lost if I backslide! God is a merciful Father; the Anointed One died to pay the ransom for all sinners. Thus, He is my Intercessor. When I find myself in temptations’ storm and pushed to do wrong if I yield, He will stretch out His hand to save me. My ship may go down, but I will not drown”.

How natural and how dangerous such a situation would be. It is similar to what the Apostle Paul spoke about regarding disagreements among the Gentle converts concerning grace.[10] God delights in forgiveness, they said, and since Jesus, the Anointed One, offered to meet God’s demands for our sin, a little more to forgive will not make a big difference to Him! The risk of attaching to the Gospel unconditional pardon for sinners – a liability especially among half-trained converts from heathenism. In some instances, these uncommitted followers fostered disharmony and discord among the congregants. They lied due to a lack of discipline and relapse into sin after baptism. The possibility of such abuse of his message of sin-cleansing through the blood of Jesus was doubtless present to John’s mind.[11]

James Morgan (1859-1942) teaches that there is great dignity in using the term “knowledge.” It is the result of observation and experience. It implies certainty. If we say we know a person, it supposes we have a personal relationship with them. It also suggests that we know from experience who they are, not who they say they are. If we are familiar with a country, we must have been there, and have seen it, and become acquainted with its citizens, land, and products. If we recommend a medication, we must have used it or analyzed it and become accustomed to any of its healing properties or side effects. We know that bread is wholesome because we’ve eaten it. We know that honey is sweet because we’ve tasted it. This is precisely the force of the term when we speak of the “knowledge” of the Anointed One. [12]


[1] Pierce, S. E., An Exposition of the First Epistle General of John, op. cit., Vol. 1, p. 134

[2] Thomas Scott: First Epistle of John, op. cit., p. 485

[3] Joseph Benson: First Epistle of John. op. cit., loc. cit.

[4] Kelly, W., An Exposition of the Epistles of John the Apostle, op. cit., pp. 88–89

[5] Alexander, William: The Expositor’s Bible, Epistles of John, op. cit., p. 118

[6] See Exodus 21:13; Numbers 35:28; Joshua 20:1-6

[7] 1 Samuel 24:1

[8] Spurgeon, Charles: The Spurgeon Sermon Collection, Vol. 3, Sermon, #1732, “In Him: Like Him,” pp. 404-419

[9] Lias, J. J., The First Epistle of John with Exposition, op. cit., p. 71

[10] Romans 6:11

[11] Findlay, G. G., Fellowship in the Life Eternal: An Exposition of the Epistles of St. John, op. cit., pp. 135–136.

[12] Morgan, James: An Exposition of the First Epistle of John, op. cit., pp. 73–74

About drbob76

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