WALKING IN THE LIGHT

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

By Dr. Robert R. Seyda

FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN

CHAPTER TWO (Lesson LXIII) 06/17/21

2:21 Do you think I am writing this letter because you don’t understand the truth? No, I am writing because you do know the truth. And you recognize that no tales come from the truth.

COMMENTARY

And thirdly, John does not teach that a Christian knows everything there is to know. Some respond by pointing to John’s saying in verse twenty-seven, “For the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know, and what He teaches is true.” How ridiculous it would be, says Lloyd-Jones, if they understood that it included all the earth’s arts, sciences, and languages. That’s why we must always keep every verse within the context of the narrative. John is not even suggesting that this broad umbrella of knowledge covers all things spiritual. In verse twenty-six, John gives us the setting by saying, “I am writing these things to warn you about those who want to lead you astray.” That’s why John ends verses twenty-seven and twenty-eight by reminding them, “So just as He has taught you, remain in fellowship with the Anointed One . . . so that when He returns, you will be full of courage and not shrink back from Him in shame.”[1]

D. Edmond Hiebert (1928-1995) tells us that our assurance of acceptance before God depends on the inner experience of a noncondemning conscience. The Apostle John says, “if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God.” The statement of the specification, “if our heart does not condemn us,”[2] leaves open the question of the present reality of that condition. While this might mean “does not condemn us at first,” John probably intends that it will not condemn us. That’s because there are no misgivings as to our spiritual state. We already resolved such issues before God. While every believer does experience occasions when his conscience condemns him, it implies that this is not characteristic of mature believers. No believer should expect to live a life free from an accusing conscience.[3]

2:22 And, who are the liars? Anyone who says that Jesus is not the Anointed One. That means anyone who denies the Father and the Son is an enemy of the Anointed One.

EXPOSITION

John is not satisfied with identifying those with the antichrist spirit as living in the darkness of ignorance; he calls them out as liars and enemies. There’s no reason to doubt that John still remembered what Jesus said to the cynics and critics who doubted His authenticity by telling them their father is the devil. He has them in his grip. They only want to do what Satan wants them to do. He was a murderer from the beginning. He was always against the truth. There is no truth in him. He is like the lies he tells. Yes, the devil is a liar. He is the father of lies.[4] And in his revelation, John heard a similar message.[5]

The same chains once bound the Corinthians through idolatry. Paul reminded them that before they were Christians, they worshiped false gods. None of these gods could speak. So, Paul warned them that no one communicating with the Holy Spirit’s help could say that they hate Jesus. No one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the approval of the Holy Spirit.[6] In fact, John would address this same dilemma in his day.[7] And the Apostle Jude would speak about the same people who were already active during his ministry.[8] Unfortunately, it is still swirling around God’s people today.

COMMENTARY

Andreas (600-700 AD) speaks of the heresy of Simon,[9] which said that Jesus and the Anointed One were two different people. According to them, Jesus was a man, the son of Joseph and Mary, but the Anointed One descended from heaven in the form of a dove and anointed Him as God’s Son, the Messiah. John is quick to condemn those who think like that and brands their belief as Satanic. There were still others who made a distinction between the Father and some nameless deity beyond Him, whom they called the Father of the Anointed One. These too denied Jesus, saying that he was a mere man and did not have God’s nature.[10]

Adam Clarke (1762-1832) defines what he sees as an antichrist. Any person is an antichrist, says Clarke, who denies the supernatural and miraculous birth of Jesus the Anointed One, who denies Jesus to be the Son of God, and who denies God to be the Father of the Lord Jesus; thus, he denies the Father and the Son. The Jews, in general, and the Gnostics, in particular, rejected the miraculous conception of Jesus. He was considered no more than an ordinary person, the son of carpenter Joseph and Mary. But the Gnostics held that a Divine person named Aeon, [11] is an angelical being, dwelt in him, but all things else relative to his miraculous generation and Divinity they rejected. These were antichrists who denied Jesus to be the Christ. That’s why the Apostle John calls them “liars.”[12]

Richard Rothe (1799-1867) says that John makes it obvious that the antichrist spirit is more lethal than some may think. By denying that Jesus was the Anointed One, you also deny that He is the Son of God. You also deny that His coming and death on the cross was for no reason and that His resurrection was a myth. Therefore, God is a liar when He said He sent His Son to save the lost from eternal damnation. John cannot comprehend, says Rothe, how such a person could deny this truth without renouncing truth altogether. Not only that, but denying the facts about the Anointed One indicates they cannot recognize the truth at all.[13]

Sir Robert Anderson (1842-1918) takes what Paul says here about Jesus being “THE CHRIST.” It is not that He died, nor even that He died for our sins, for demon doctrine will accept this and dwell upon it with exquisite feeling. But that “He died for our sins according to the Scriptures;” died to make atonement for our sins; died as the completion of the typical teaching of the Divine religion of Judaism – fulfillment of “all things written in the law of Moses, and in the Prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning Him.”[14]This is the doctrine of the Anointed One, says Anderson. If a person does not believe it, then, no matter how unique their teaching is in all respects, no matter how impressive their character and life, the Holy Spirit declares that “the spirit of the Antichrist” if they deny the Father and the Son. And let Christians who are fooling with these false gospels recognize these false ministers and warn them that they will give an account of their conduct before God.[15]

Rudolf Schnackenburg (1914-2002) agrees that there are very few eye-catching phrases to get readers interested in what a person is about to say than what the Apostle John uses here in verse nineteen, “Who are the liars?” or “Who is telling lies?” These are those who openly reject the teachings of the Apostles. Indeed, they are liars par excellence, as the forceful mode of speech “who?” indicates. It is not some misguided error but a designed battle originating from the dark powers opposed to God and directed against any fellowship with Him, which Jesus opened up to humanity. They declare their false opinions publicly, seeking to spread confusion among the faithful. They know they cannot bring Jesus down from His exalted place as Savior and high priest at God’s right hand, so they hope to divide and conquer His followers. If the Light on earth goes out, then the Light in heaven has no meaning or purpose.[16] No wonder, John was so adamant about the believers sticking together, holding on to God’s Word for strength and comfort. He strongly advises this in verses twenty-three through twenty-six.

After examining the word antichrist as it appears in the Epistles of John, J. Dwight Pentecost (1915-2014) tells us these references will reveal that John is principally concerned with an immediate doctrinal error – the denial of the person of the Anointed One. The emphasis is not on a future revelation of an individual, but the present manifestation of false doctrine. To John, the antichrist was already here. The question arises then about the relation between the “antichrist” of John’s epistles and the “beasts” in the Book of Revelation. The prefix “anti” in antichrist may be used for “instead of” or “against.” Prophecy writer Roy Aldrich correctly observes: The solution to the problem of the identification of Antichrist would depend upon how much light they have on whether he is primarily the great enemy of the Anointed One or whether he is an imitation christ.[17]


[1] Lloyd-Jones, Martyn, Life in Christ, op. cit., pp. 249-250

[2] 1 John 3:20-21

[3] Hiebert, D. Edmond: 1 John, Bibliotheca Sacra, op. cit., p. 315

[4] John 8:44

[5] Revelation 3:9

[6] 1 Corinthians 12:2-3

[7] 2 John 1:7

[8] Jude 1:4

[9] This is a reference to Simon Magus and the Simonians who claimed him to be the founder of their doctrines.

[10] Andreas: Bray, G. (Ed.), op. cit., 1-3 John, p. 189

[11] Aeon, also spelled Eon, (Greek: “age,” or “lifetime”), in Gnosticism and Manichaeism, one of the orders of spirits, or spheres of being, that emanated from the Godhead and were attributes of the nature of the absolute; an important element in the cosmology that developed around the central concept of Gnostic dualism  – the conflict between matter and spirit.

[12] Clarke, Adam: First Epistle of John, op. cit., p. 375

[13] Rothe, Richard: The Expository Times, op. cit., August 1892, pp. 506-507

[14] See 1 John 5:9-13

[15] Sir Robert Anderson: Redemption Truths, Ch. 11, p. 62

[16] Schnackenburg, Rudolf, The Johannine Epistles, op. cit., p. 145

[17] Pentecost, J. Dwight. Things to Come: op. cit., Kindle Locations 6115-6121

About drbob76

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