WALKING IN THE LIGHT

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

By Dr. Robert R. Seyda

FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN

CHAPTER TWO (Lesson XXVI) 04/28/21

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

Stanley L. Derickson (1940) mentions that we know enough of the maturing of children to see that they often choose a model to pattern themselves after. Even in adulthood, we often shape ourselves after our heroes. God knowing His creatures, desired to give them a model that was worth emulating. Many of our models are flawed, yet we follow their example. God wants us to adopt the lifestyle of the Anointed One, the man who lived the perfect existence. As a matter of fact, we can observe this concept in a well-known text that we wouldn’t typically tie with this saying: “Be holy for I am holy.”[1] If we follow the Apostle Peter’s caution, we will naturally pattern ourselves after the Lord. As we take the Anointed One as our model, we are not only making the man Jesus our example, but we are copying the God of the universe.[2] [3]

Michael Eaton (1942-2017) finds three aspects of “abiding” in this verse.

            (i) God’s anointing given at our first conversion “continues” or “remains with us – it                          “abides” in us.

            (ii) We must let the Word of the Gospel continue to work in our own lives – it “remains”                               in us by our continuing co-operation.

            (iii) In this way, we remain in fellowship with the Father and the Son.[4]

In other words, God started the relationship by sending His Spirit to dwell in us, then He sent His Word to guide and motivate us, and then He opened the door of fellowship with Him and His Son. None of this happened as a result of our efforts. Just like He put the earth in orbit around the sun, He keeps it turning to give us day and night, and it will not end or slow down until He says so.[5]

Pope Paul VI (1897-1978) issued a thought-provoking decree that reads: “The mission of the Church pertains to the salvation of mankind, which is to be achieved by belief in the Anointed One and by His grace. The apostolate of the Church and all its members is primarily designed to manifest the Anointed One’s message by words and deeds and communicate His grace to the world. This is done mainly through the ministry of the Word and the sacraments, entrusted in a special way to the clergy, wherein the laity also has their very important roles to fulfill if they are to be “fellow workers for the truth.”[6] It is especially on this level that the apostolate of the laity and the pastoral ministry are mutually complementary.[7] It clearly points to what the Apostle John is saying here about true fellowship with the Anointed One.

Douglas S. O’Donnell (1972) states that a Spirit-filled life or a Coram Deo (“before God”) lifestyle is one of union with and imitation of the Anointed One that is uniquely characterized by faithfulness to the Anointed One’s commandments.[8] I would add that we should do more than imitating the Anointed One to be like Him; we should be stimulating ourselves to act like Him.

Tom Thatcher (1973) tells us that in the previous chapter, the Apostle John established the fundamental belief difference between believers and the world; he turns to tests that will distinguish the behavior of believers from outsiders. While the first set of analyses focused on nonbelievers, John now highlights the life of the Christian. Consistent with the emphasis on tradition in chapter one, believers are distinct because they “obey His commands” (verse three); that is, they live by the teachings of the historical Jesus.[9]

David Guzik (1984) provides a list to consult to determine if any change in our relationship with God and sin. Here are the questions he wants us to ask ourselves:

  • As a Christian, do we no longer love sin as we once did?
  • As a Christian, do we no longer brag about our sin as we once did?
  • As a Christian, do we no longer plan to sin as we once did?
  • As a Christian, do we no longer fondly remember our sins as we once did?
  • As a Christian, we should never fully enjoy our sin as we once did.
  • As a Christian, we should no longer feel comfortable in habitual sinning as we once did.

All this adds up to, says Guzik, is that we no longer love sin more than God. We may deject some sin in our hearts, even if we cannot wholly reject it. Also, sin may still have a small place in our hearts, but it cannot be allowed to sit on the throne.[10]

Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1988-1981) thinks we should all remember that the Christian’s existence is a “life;” it is not a matter of intellectual assent to doctrine, and, therefore, they have to deal with the whole thing efficiently. Specific causes will interrupt their fellowship with God, and they must be conscientious about them. That’s why John deals with these matters. One of those is, “Are you sure you know God? (verse 3). Another is, are you disobeying God’s commandments and not living in the truth, but rather, you are living a lie? (verse 4). A third one is: are you obeying God’s Word as a sign of your love for Him? (verse 5). And finally, are you living in union with God as Jesus did? (verse 6).

Lloyd-Jones goes on to say that the Apostle John does not say, “If you live that life, you are making yourself a Christian,” but rather, “If you are a Christian, this is how you are to live your life.” If you have the life John talks about, it is bound to show itself, and if it does not, you have not acquired that life. That is logical; it is inevitable. These are not matters to be argued about; we just face the facts. You cannot be receiving the life of the Anointed One without being in union with Him, so you can become more and more like Him. You cannot claim to walk in partnership with God without keeping His commandments. Likewise, you cannot know God without immediately loving Him. Love always manifests itself by doing what the object of your desires wants to do. Loving and doing, says Lloyd-Jones, is the necessary test we all will face and must pass to be called a genuine Christian.[11]

2:7a Dear friends, I am not writing a new commandment for you; instead, it is an old commandment you’ve known about from the very beginning.

EXPOSITION

Here it appears that John took a deep breath before he began his next phase in instructing them on how they should not only conduct themselves in the world but before the eyes of the world. The Apostle Paul had such an experience. He went to Athens to preach the Gospel to both Jews and Greeks. Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers argued with him. Some of them said, “This man doesn’t know what he is saying. What is he trying to communicate?” Paul was telling them the Good News about Jesus and the resurrection. So, they said, “He seems to be telling us about some other gods.” They took Paul to a meeting of the Areopagus council. They said, “Please explain to us this new idea that you have been teaching.”[12]

In other words, we must not only be ready to live a holy life and adhere to the beliefs explained in the Gospel but be able and willing to explain it to them when asked. And so, like the Apostle John, we must learn that there are no new revelations. He has revealed all secrets needed for our salvation. That’s why John says here that what he is about to share is not new but something they heard at the very beginning of their walk with the Anointed One. It is the same tactic John used in his second letter.[13] And in this case, it was one of the Anointed One’s favorite topics repeated from Torah, love your fellow man as much as you love yourself.[14] And, as Jesus taught, it all begins with loving God more than we love ourselves.[15]

The Apostle Paul proved to be a great defender of this same principle. He made it an essential part of his letters to the Romans[16] and Galatians.[17] Even the Apostle James felt compelled to tell his readers that one law rules over all commandments. It is known as the “Royal Law” and says: “Love your neighbor the same as you love yourself.” If you obey this Royal Law, you are living right. But if you are treating one person as more important than another, you are sinning. You are guilty of violating God’s law. Anyone who is aware of all God’s laws but fails to obey even one is guilty of breaking them all.[18]


[1] 1 Peter 1:16

[2] Ibid. 2:21

[3] Derickson, Stanley L. Notes on Theology, The Incarnation, p. 347

[4] Cf. 1 John 3:6, 9, 14, 17, 24; 4:12, 13, 16; 2 John 1:2, 9

[5] Eaton, Michael, 1, 2, 3 John, op. cit., p. 54

[6] 3 John 1:8

[7] Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity “Apostolicam Actuositatem” Solemnly Promulgated by his holiness Pope Paul VI, November 18, 1965, Chapter II, Objectives, (5)

[8] O’Donnell, Douglas Sean: 1–3 John, op. cit., (Kindle Locations 874-875)

[9] Thatcher, Tom: 1, 2, and 3 John, Jude, op. cit., (Kindle Locations 5516-5519)

[10] Guzik, David: Enduring Word, op. cit., loc. cit.

[11] Lloyd-Jones, Martyn, Life in Christ, op. cit., pp. 182, 190

[12] Acts of the Apostles 17:18-19

[13] 2 John 1:5

[14] Leviticus 19:18

[15] See Deuteronomy 6:5

[16] Romans 13:8-10

[17] Galatians 5:13

[18] James 2:8-11

About drbob76

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