WALKING IN THE LIGHT

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

By Dr. Robert R. Seyda

FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN

CHAPTER TWO (Lesson XXVIII) 04/30/21

2:7 My dear friends, I am not writing a new command to you. It is the same command you have had since the beginning. This command is the teaching you have already heard

To put this another way, John was teasing his readers much like a person who stands before an audience and says, “I’m going to tell you something you already know, you’ve heard it from the time of your conversion. It has to do with loving. Yet, I will explain it in a new way because Jesus not only preached this commandment but practiced it to the fullest. In fact, you are already doing what Jesus said you should do. Furthermore, anyone who claims they know all about it but doesn’t practice it is wandering around in the dark.” At this point, everyone in the audience is yelling, “tell  us what you are going to tell us! Don’t keep us hanging like this.” Finally, the speaker says, “Only when you obey this old commandment that Jesus revised, namely, to love your fellow brother and sister in the Lord, will you be living openly in the light of understanding.”

Theologian Augustus H. Strong (1836-1921) offers an insightful thought about how an old commandment is also a new commandment. He points out that “No one can know a person’s thoughts except that person’s spirit, and no one can know God’s thoughts except God’s Spirit. And we have received God’s Spirit (not the world’s spirit), so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us.”[1] As the Roman statesman Cicero said, “Nemo igitur vir Magnus sine aliquo adflatu Divino unquam fuit.” (“Therefore, no great man ever existed who did not enjoy some portion of divine inspiration.”)[2] But dull minds, says Strong, cannot figure out the sayings of the Scriptures, no sinful heart can see the progress of theology from the very first prophecy. For some, the maxim, “The wages of sin are death, but the gift of God is eternal life,”[3] seems beyond their comprehension.

Teachers are needed to demonstrate how theories work or don’t work. The Holy Spirit is required to show us that the “new commandment” illustrated by the death of the Anointed One is only an “old commandment” from the beginning now transformed. The Holy Spirit enables us to enter into the meaning of the Holy One’s revelations in both Scripture and nature, interpret the one by the other, and work out original demonstrations and applications of the truth.[4] Strong’s presentation is somewhat unclear by bringing the natural and supernatural together to make the identical point. However, so is the doctrine of the incarnation in which the Son of God became the son of man, two in one, both for the same purpose.

Harry A. Ironside (1876-1951) says there are three distinct beginnings emphasized in Scripture. First, “In the beginning, God created heaven and the earth.”[5] Secondly, there is a beginning that goes even further back when “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God.”[6] Now, in verse seven, we have that which “was from the beginning” of a new dispensation, the onset of Christianity.[7]

Stephen S. Smalley (1931-2018) sees John’s use of the Greek noun entolē, which is translated here as “commandment,” and implies an order, a charge, precept, and an injunction. Smalley points to the fact that “command” is used in the singular. There is the possibility that in John’s mind, the command he is about to reveal is the only command needed to fulfill the whole Law as outlined by Jesus to the one who questioned what was the greatest of all commandments.[8] Therefore, since Jesus fulfilled the entire Law by His actions, by having Him dwell in us when we obey Him and His words, we also fulfill the Law.[9]

Michael Eaton (1942-2017) refers to the common expectation that the Messiah would bring a new and unsurpassed final era in the story of the human race. As such, Eaton demonstrates the thinking of pre-Christian believers this way:

                              Moses’ Days                                               Jesus’ Day

Messiah is coming>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>/Messiah had not yet come……….……………………

But then Jesus came. He started preaching His message: “The kingdom is at hand,” But it soon became apparent that although the Messiah’s days had begun, the Moses’ days had not finished. There was an overlap “upon those that the culmination of the ages would come.”[10] Therefore, the position of the Christian since Jesus came is as follows:

Moses’ Day                                            Jesus’ Day

Messiah is coming>>>>>>>>>>>>>>/Messiah is here>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

The new days of God’s kingdom came, says Eaton, while the world’s empire was still in full power. It was only after His death and resurrection that He defeated the world realm leader. That’s when the Anointed One declared all authority in heaven and on earth were His.[11] Therefore, those still under the rule of Satan’s dynasty found themselves on the losing end; those in the kingdom of heaven became winners for eternity.[12]

2:8a Yet, this commandment I’m writing to you about is new. Jesus lived the truth of this commandment, and He is living in you. That’s because the darkness of godless thinking is disappearing, and truth-light is shining brightly.

EXPOSITION

When reading this first part of verse eight, we cannot help but think that the Apostle John is quoting the master’s words.[13] The Apostle Paul wrote how Jesus put His words into action by becoming poor for our good.[14] Paul even told the Ephesians to do what God would do, facing the same situations they encountered each day that called on love in action.[15] It was our Lord’s action, said the Apostle Peter, that helped us have trust and hope in God to be there when we need Him.[16] And, says Peter, “Since the Anointed One suffered and underwent pain, you must have the same attitude He did; you must be ready to suffer, too.”[17]

We don’t know if John was a devoted reader of the works of King Solomon. Still, when sharing that he saw the coming of the Light for understanding to drive away from the darkness of misunderstanding and deception, it paints a similar picture to Solomon’s words.[18] However, since John knows of Jesus’ preference of Isaiah’s words, he could easily recall the prophet’s proclamation: “The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. The light will shine on those living in the land of dark shadows.[19]

In addition, there was Zechariah, the father of the prophecy about John the Baptizer where he said, “Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace
.”[20] And indeed Jesus did, and even confirmed Zechariah’s prophecy about Him.[21]

The Apostle Paul stood before King Agrippa and gave an account of His calling and ministry. He told the magistrate that the Anointed One told him he would be sending him out to the Gentiles, “To open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God. Then they will receive forgiveness for their sins and be given a place among God’s people, who are set apart by faith in me.”[22] And perhaps John heard the Apostle Paul talk about his message to the Roman believers that the night is almost gone, the day is almost here.[23] Furthermore, Paul told the Corinthians that Satan hates the glorious light shining from the Gospel.[24] And when John became the pastor of the congregation in Ephesus, they may have shared with him Paul’s letter that said, “Once you lived in darkness. Now you are living in the light that comes from the Lord. Live as children who have the light of the Lord in them.”[25] He also congratulated the believers in Thessalonica on being children of the light and not of the darkness.[26]


[1] 1 Corinthians 2:11-12

[2] Cicero, De Natura Deorum Academica, The Loeb Classical Library, Vol. XIX, William Heinemann Ltc., London, 1951, Bk. II, p. 282, ⁋167

[3] Romans 6:23

[4] Strong, Augustus H., Systematic Theology, Vol. 1, p. 93

[5] Genesis 1:1

[6] John 1:1

[7] Ironside, H. A. The Epistles of John and Jude (Ironside Expository Commentaries), op. cit., (Kindle Location 86)

[8] Matthew 22:37-39

[9] Smalley, Stephen S., Word Biblical Commentary, Vol. 51, op. cit., p. 55

[10] 1 Corinthians 10:11

[11] Matthew 28:18

[12] Eaton, Michael, 1, 2, 3, John, op. cit., pp. 59-60

[13] John 13:34; 15:12

[14] 2 Corinthians 8:9

[15] Ephesians 5:1-2

[16] 1 Peter 1:21

[17] Ibid. 4:1

[18] Song of Solomon 2:11-12

[19] Isaiah 9:2; See 60:1-3; Matthew 4:16

[20] Luke 1:78-79

[21] John 12;46

[22] Acts of the Apostles 26:17b-18

[23] Romans 13:12

[24] 1 Corinthians 4:4

[25] Ephesians 5:8

[26] 1 Thessalonians 5:5-6

About drbob76

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