WALKING IN THE LIGHT

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

By Dr. Robert R. Seyda

FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN

CHAPTER TWO (Lesson XLI) 05/19/21

2:14 I write to you, children, because you know the Father. I write to you, fathers, because you know the one who existed from the beginning. Likewise, I write to you, young people, because you are strong. The Word of God lives in you, and you have defeated the Evil One.

Alonzo R. Cocke (1858-1901) says that the Apostle John reveals the secret of a believer’s adequate offensive strength against sin by stating: “the Word of God dwells in you.” The only offensive weapon mentioned by Paul is “the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.”[1] That word “COMMUNICATED LIFE” to them, for they were born “not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which lives and abides forever.”[2] That Word “ENDURES FOREVER” and therefore is present in the heart all through the stage of the conflict. “His Word remains in him.” That same Word “CLEANSES AWAY EVIL”: “Now you are clean through the Word which I have spoken to you.”[3]How will a young man cleanse his way? By paying attention to Your Word.”[4]

Cocke goes on to say that a strengthened soul, like Edward Irving (1792-1834) remarks, “feels the sublimity there is in a saying: ‘freshly descended from the porch of heaven.’”[5] That the Word captivates all our faculties, exalts our emotions, and raises our intellectual energies to divine strength. It opens the gates of heaven, points to the shining path of life and leads to the light that flows from God’s throne.[6] I can personally tell you that after ministering in churches in Europe, America, and Asia, there is nothing I’ve seen that can electrify believers like the Word of God preached under the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

Paul E. Kretzmann (1883-1965) sees the Apostle John issuing another warning. This time, against the temptations and perils of the love of the world. By way of introduction to this warning, he reminds the Christians of various ages of their station and the duty they owe themselves: I am writing to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven you for His name’s sake. It has the affectionate tone and address of the spiritual father united with him in Christian love fellowship. His appeal rests upon having been made partakers of God’s most wonderful gift, the forgiveness of sins for the sake of the Anointed One. It is because the Anointed One obtained perfect satisfaction from the Father for the sins of all humanity. After all, He took upon Himself both their guilt and their penalty and reconciled God to the whole world, uniting us with the Father in that beautiful mystical union that makes it self-evident for us to walk in the ways of His will.[7]

Priestly L. Greville (1891-1976) sees verses twelve through fourteen as a parenthetical statement. For Greville, John pauses to address the members of his diocese more personally. Many of them felt unsettled by the teaching of the heretics and have begun to wonder if they are enlightened believers. Perhaps these heretics are telling them they need to grow up and accept the truth as it is. No wonder he starts with the most vulnerable, the babes in the Anointed One. But his message to them, the more advanced Christians, and the leaders of the church are the same: “You know Who saved you, you are aware that this was all planned in eternity before the creation of the world, and you have all the power you need to stand steadfast and resist the devil’s plans to pull you down. Stick with God’s Word, and you will overcome the power of Satan.”[8]

Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) tries to get into the mind of the Apostle John and find out why he suddenly stops his narrative and probes into an example of pastoral care? Did he find out something he’s not recording in the Epistle? Was he told where the real problem was in the congregation to whom he is writing? In any case, he intends to explore ways to assure them that all they need is a few adjustments in the attitudes and actions. One of those is a question John asks himself. I wonder if these people will be discouraged. Will they feel I’m holding the standard so high they cannot attain it? Will it make them think like condemned sinners and that there is no hope for them at all unless they measure up to his expectations of them? If so, I want to give them a word of comfort.

The second thing, says Lloyd-Jones, is that John is anxious to encourage them positively that will motivate them. So, John instructs them that they should not think of this new commandment and exhortation as something entirely separate or disconnected from nor in addition to anything else. It is a part of the fundamental doctrine of keeping God’s commandment to love one another as proof that you are walking in the Light, not wandering in the darkness. You now know the truth.

And the third thing is to show them that there are no excuses for failure in life given the provision that God made possible. You need not sin, but if you sin, you have someone on your side to plead with the heavenly Father for your pardon. God gave you the Holy Spirit so that you could love others and much as you love God. And to show that you love God, all you have to do is follow His teachings. And it is far better to follow God’s laws by walking in the Light of what He says about doing them the proper way. By doing this, John feels that he has comforted those who feel condemned, encouraged those who feel unable to live up to expectations, and taken away any excuse they may have from the high calling they’ve received in the Lord Jesus the Anointed One.[9]

Stephen S. Smalley (1931-2018) clarifies that there is no conflict between the injunction here not to love the world and the statement of John that God loved the world.[10] Even if the world rejected God, it remains the object of God’s love as a Savior.[11] In that same sense, we, too, can love the world as an object of preaching the Gospel of redemption. It may have gone through the Apostle John’s mind as he penned it because he is quick to add “nor the things the world tries to offer you.” Your calling was to be saintly, not worldly.[12] Besides, wanting the things the world has to offer is a losing proposition. You see, says John in verse seventeen, everything the world has is going to become obsolete. It may seem worthwhile now, but before long, it will end up on the trash heap. Listen to what Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.”[13]

Michael Eaton (1942-2017) feels that John comes to a critical juncture in his letter. Some may have gotten the idea that they may not have such sure salvation. The Apostle did not want any misgivings about their born-again experience and union with the Lord, troubling the believer’s minds. So, there are three things that Eaton notices in verses twelve through fourteen.

Firstly, the “tests of conversion.” John did not want his spiritual children to look to their character or their estimate of divine strength to determine the validity of their conversion. That’s what the Pharisees did, and Jesus ridiculed it, calling them white-washed crypts. Secondly, says Eaton, pastors and teachers should not spend all their time preaching and teaching about how believers’ sin. Instead, let them know and practice all the ways they can keep from sinning. Thirdly, the Scriptures teach that a combination of reverence and love for the Lord is what assures our salvation. Often “reverence” is translated as “fear.” But is more of high respect for the Lord and His authority and power. Loving the Lord is undoubtedly done with joy, but alongside is our reverence for Him as the Mighty God who holds life and death in His hands.[14]

Years ago, in a “Dear Abby” column, this letter appeared. I was young and teaching math at the junior high school level. We had worked hard on a new concept all week, and the students were very stressed. They were frowning, frustrated, and carping at each other and me. Wanting to stop the crankiness before it got out of hand, I asked the students to take out two sheets of paper and list the names of the other students in the room, leaving a space between each name. Then I told them to think of the nicest thing they could say about each of their classmates and write it down. It took the remainder of the class period to finish the assignment. When the students handed me the papers and left, they seemed more relaxed.

That weekend, I wrote each student’s name on a separate sheet of paper and listed what the students had said about that individual. On Monday, I gave each student his or her list. Before long, everyone was smiling. “Really?” I heard one whisper. “I never knew that meant anything to anyone.” “I didn’t know anyone liked me that much!”

Years later, I attended the funeral of one of those students, a promising young man, even when I taught him in junior high school. His untimely death in Vietnam deeply saddened me. Mark’s friends packed the church, many of whom had been his classmates and students of mine. After the funeral, many of Mark’s former classmates and I received an invitation to his parents’ house. They approached me and said, “We want to show you something. Mark was carrying this when killed.” His father pulled something from a wallet. It was the list of all the good things Mark’s classmates said about him. “Thank you so much for doing that,” Mark’s mother said. “As you can see, Mark treasured it.” In a way, that’s what the Apostle John is doing here. He wanted his readers, who he called “my children,” to hear some good things about themselves. – SISTER, Highland Park Middle School, St. Paul, Minnesota, January 10, 1999.[15]


[1] Ephesians 6:17

[2] 1 Peter 1:23

[3] John 15:3

[4] Psalm 119:9

[5] Orations, Lectures, and Sermons by Edward Irving, Published by J. F. Sibell, New York, 1823, Oration I, p. 14

[6] Cocke, A. R. (1895)., Studies in the Epistles of John, op. cit., pp. 47-48

[7] Kretzmann, Paul E., Popular Commentary, First Epistle of John, op. cit., loc. cit.

[8] Greville, Priestly L., The Johannine Epistles, op. cit., pp. 54-56

[9] Lloyd-Jones, Martyn, Life in Christ, op. cit., p. 201

[10] John 3:16

[11] See 1 John 2:2; 4:9, 14

[12] Smalley, Stephen S. Word Biblical Commentary, Vol. 51, op. cit., p. 81

[13] Matthew 24:35

[14] Eaton, Michael, 1, 2, 3, John, op. cit., pp. 62-63

[15] https://www.uexpress.com/dearabby/1999/1/10/exercise-in-self-esteem-is-lesson

About drbob76

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