WALKING IN THE LIGHT

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

By Dr. Robert R. Seyda

FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN

CHAPTER TWO (Lesson LVI) 06/08/21

2:19 These enemies were in our group, but they left us. They did not belong with us. If they were never part of our group, they would have stayed with us. But they left. It shows that none of them truly belonged with us.

EXPOSITION

Now here comes the shocker! Some of these antichrists are already a part of the fellowship to whom John is writing. Was this some new phenomenon? Not in the lease; it happened as far back as the time of Israel is getting ready to go into the Promised Land. They were warned by Moses about troublemakers from their nation trying to persuade the people of their city to do the unthinkable. They would suggest that the people go along with them to worship other gods, gods about which they knew nothing.[1]

The Apostle Paul ran into the same problem in Antioch when the Judaizers came down from Jerusalem under James’s guise of being sent. Later, when Paul was meeting with the council in the holy city, the members of the committee recognized what happened, and in a letter written to the congregations in Antioch, Syria, and Cilia letting them know that they had heard that some men have come to you from our group. What they said troubled and upset you. But we did not tell them to do this.[2] Perhaps this was why Paul warned the elders of Ephesus that even some men from their group would arise and distort the truth to people to follow them.[3]

It was also a type of disruptive activity that was not unknown to the Apostle Peter. And his message was centered on the consequences of joining such a crowd. He told his readers that people could be made free from practicing the world’s sinful ways just by knowing our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Anointed One. But if they go back into those sinful indulgences and end up being controlled by them, then they are worse off than they were before they converted. Yes, it would be better for them to have never known the truth about the way of salvation. That would be better had they never heard the Gospel than to listen to it preached, accept it, but then turn away from the holy teaching given to them.[4] And according to the Apostle Jude, it all started with people who divide believers. The Spirit does not guide them because they don’t have the Spirit.[5]

John then points out a critical factor in understanding why such complainers exist in the body of the Anointed One. They could not maintain harmony with the other believers. It was either their way or no way. They were right, and everyone who disagreed was wrong. Why? Because they were standing up for the truth! The problem was, they rejected the truth.

The wise man Job understood the principle of survival in such circumstances.[6] And the Psalmist was quick to declare that the Lord loves what is right and will stand up for His followers. He will always protect them, but demonic troublemakers will be left to defend themselves.[7]

That’s why the prophet Jeremiah could give those who would listen to a message of faith and hope. The word he received from the Lord was that He chose the people of Israel and Judah to be His people, and He would always be their God. I would give them singleness of heart and unity of purpose. They will have one goal – to worship Him all their lives. They and their children will want to do this out of their love for Him. Because of this, He would make an everlasting agreement with the people of Israel and Judah. In this contract, He promises never to run off and leave them. He would always be good to them. That should cause them to reverence and respect Him. That way, they will never turn away from Him for another god.[8]

So, when Jesus came, He delivered the same message, only in an up-to-date version. He brought with Him living water. And whoever drank from this water would themselves become a fountain that would maintain them into eternal life.[9] It was our Lord’s mission when He came to earth.[10] His intention was not only to improve their experience here on earth but give them eternal life for being faithful.[11] Paul adopted it as the core of his mission statement, where Jesus would be the center of it all.[12]

And the Apostle Peter also declared this promise made by God as available through His Son. He told his readers that God planned long ago to choose them and make them His holy people, which is the Spirit’s work. God wanted them to obey Him and to be made clean by the blood sacrifice of Jesus the Anointed One. Peter prayed that they would enjoy more and more of God’s grace and peace. But praise to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus the Anointed One. God has great mercy, and because of His mercy, He gave us a new life. This new life brings us a living hope through Jesus the Anointed One’s resurrection from death. Now we wait to receive the blessings God has for His children. These blessings are in store for us in heaven. They cannot be ruined or be destroyed or lose their beauty. God’s power protects us through our faith, and it keeps us safe until our salvation comes. That salvation is ready to be given to us at the end of time.[13]

There’s an old saying that goes, “You can run, but you can’t hide.” It was a way of saying what Torah said, “Be sure your sins will find you out.”[14] Paul expressed his concern that many who called themselves God’s chosen, but it quickly becomes evident that His Word has not penetrated their mind or heart.[15] However, there was a well-chosen remnant, not by any religious ceremony, but through God’s grace by faith.[16] So stay away from those who claim new revelations or a new word from the Lord.[17] However, God has His eye on them and will see that they fail because the Spirit will expose them.[18] But we must have nothing to do with them, stick with soul winning for our Lord and Savior Jesus the Anointed One.[19]

COMMENTARY

John Calvin (1509-1564) discusses the knowledge of God in the Anointed One as the Redeemer. It was first manifested to the Jewish fathers, under the law, and after that to us under the Gospel. It looks at regeneration by faith through repentance. In this section, he addresses the sin against the Holy Spirit and asks why it is unpardonable. He notes the paralogism[20] of the Novatians[21] who wrestle with the words of the Apostle Paul here in verse nineteen.  If we look closely, we will see that the Apostle John speaks not of one particular lapse or two but of the universal revolt by which the degenerate renounce salvation.

It is not strange that God should be cruel to those whom John, in his Epistle, declares not to have been of the elect, from whom they went out, says Calvin. He is directing his message against those who imagine that they could safely return to the Christian religion from which they revolted. John wants to make sure they understand that they have no such false and malicious choice. Once you knowingly and willingly throw off fellowship with the Anointed One, by no means can they return to it, and all will be okay. It is not, says Calvin, that those who slip out of their yoke due to inattention or overindulgence are rejecting His whole doctrine.

The better to show that this was the species of impiety intended, he afterward expressly adds the term willfully. For when he says, “If we sin willfully, after that, we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remained no more sacrifice for sins,” he denies not that Christ is a perpetual victim to expiate the transgressions of saints. Still, he says if we abandon this one, there remains no other sacrifice. And it is discarded when they shun the truth of the Gospel.[22]

The Swiss Reformation, like the German, was disturbed and inconsistent with radical excesses. A Protestant leader in Switzerland, Huldrych Zwingli (1484-1531), claims that the two fires of Romanism and Ultra Protestantism caused a schism. They attacked the movement from the front and rear, from without and within. The Romanists countered because of tradition by the Radicals based on the Bible. In some respects, the danger from the latter was more significant. Liberty has more to fear from the abuses of its friends than from the opposition of its foes. The Reformation would have failed if it had identified itself with the revolution. Zwingli applied to the Radicals John’s words to the anti-Christian teachers: “They went out from us, but they were not of us.” Zwingli considered the controversy with the Roman church as mere child’s play compared to that with the Ultra protestants.[23]


[1] Deuteronomy 13:13

[2] Acts 15:24

[3] Ibid. 20:30

[4] 2 Peter 2:20-21

[5] Jude 1:19

[6] Job 17:9

[7] Psalm 37:28

[8] Jeremiah 32:38-40

[9] John 4:14

[10] Ibid. 6:37-39

[11] Ibid. 10:28-30

[12] 2 Timothy 2:10, 19

[13] 1 Peter 1:2-5

[14] Numbers 32:23

[15] Romans 9:6

[16] Ibid. 11:5-6

[17] 1 Corinthians 11:19

[18] 2 Timothy 3:9

[19] Hebrews 10:39

[20] Paralogism is a piece of illogical or illusory reasoning, especially one which appears superficially logical or which the reasoner believes to be logical.

[21] Novatian was a Roman Catholic priest in the third century who opposed Pope Cornelius for his practice of forgiving those believers who fell away from the truth and began to worship idols by the works of the flesh as Paul describes them in Chapter 5 of Galatians. His point was that only God can forgive sins, not the priests or bishops.

[22] Calvin, John: Institutes, op. cit., Bk. 3, Ch. 3, pp. 642-643

[23] Zwingli, Huldrych: Schaff: History of the Christian Church, Vol. 8 by Philip Schaff, The Reformation in Zurich 1519-1526, Ch. 3, p. 76

About drbob76

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