WALKING IN THE LIGHT

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

By Dr. Robert R. Seyda

FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN

CHAPTER TWO (Lesson LXIV) 06/18/21

2:22 So who is the liar? It is the person who says Jesus is not the Messiah. Whoever says such a thing is a sworn enemy of the Anointed One – someone who does not believe in the Father or His Son.

Raymond E. Brown (1928-1998) points out that of all the times, John used the Greek noun pseustēs (“liar”); this is the only place with the definite article “the.”[1] It is usually a sign that the author is speaking of a known person. Rhetorically, we could phrase it, “Who is the one telling lies?” While John has not mentioned anyone in particular, he has identified a group known as the traitors, those who left the congregation to go out and preach an antichrist doctrine. They are the ones going around telling lies about the Anointed One – He is not God, nor His Son, nor the Messiah.[2] [3]

Judith Lieu (1951) makes an interesting point about the antichrist. We can all presuppose that those were members of the congregation who were against Jesus identified as the Messiah, the Anointed One. But it doesn’t make sense that they were part of the flock and had such an irreverent attitude against the One who died and gave Himself to save the world. So, there must have been something else they were against that caused John to label them antichrists. John leaves no room for any other interpretation than this: “The antichrists are those who will not accept the Father/Son relationship between Jesus the Messiah and God the Father.”[4]

2:23a Furthermore, anyone who denies the Son cannot say they are in union with the Father. But anyone who confesses their faith in the Son acknowledges the Father also.

EXPOSITION

John notes that this was one of the first things Jesus told the skeptical Jews about His claim to being sent from God.[5] Then, on another occasion, the Master pointed out that the Father did not plan to say who is guilty. He gave that to the Son to do. He does this so that all people will honor the Son as they honor the Father. Anyone who does not accept the Son does not glorify the Father who sent Him.[6]

Perhaps this inspired John to write in his second letter that anyone who goes beyond the Anointed One’s teaching and does not remain faithful to what the Messiah taught does not have God. But whoever continues to follow the teaching of the Anointed One has both the Father and the Son. If someone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not welcome or accept that person into your home. If you welcome such a person, you share in their evil work.[7]

COMMENTARY

Bede the Venerable (672-735 AD) says that John looks for a confession of faith that involves the heart both in word and deed. He says the same thing the Apostle Paul wrote: “No one can say that Jesus is Lord, except by the Holy Spirit,”[8] which means that unless the Holy Spirit gives us the power to do so, we cannot serve the Anointed One in faith and action. [9]

John Calvin (1509-1564) speaks about redemption found only in the Anointed One for the lost sinner. The Apostle John joins the Apostle Paul in reminding the Jews that the prophets’ words were spoken to motivate them to acknowledge deliverance in the Anointed One.[10]

Jewish scribes clouded what the Prophets taught about the Redeemer with false explanations, yet the Anointed One was assumed to be a fact. It was received, as it were, with public consent, that there was no other remedy for the world’s desperate circumstances; there existed no different delivery method than the manifestation of the Mediator. So, until He brings us into the eternal inheritance of His kingdom that is undoubtedly coming, there is no saving knowledge of God without the Anointed One. The Anointed One was to God’s elect the object of their faith and confidence from the beginning.

In this same sense, Irenaeus once said that the Father, boundless in Himself, is bound in the Son. He became one of us so that the immensity of His glory would not swallow up our minds.[11] Look at what happened on the Mount of Transfiguration.[12] Liberals who ignore the incarnation distort this helpful insight into an irreverent dream. It’s as if the Anointed One only shared in the Godhead as a part taken from a whole. In contrast, the meaning is to point out that understanding God comes through the Anointed One alone. The saying of John was always right, “whosoever denies the Son; does not have the Father.”[13]

In James Arminius’ (1560-1609) lecture on theology, he points out that according to verse twenty-three, Jesus the Anointed One is so by the declaration of the Father’s promise and covenant. Also, according to Scripture, He is established as Savior of all that believe in Him: In this way, God qualified Him as a perfect High Priest, and He became the source of eternal salvation for all those who obey Him.”[14] Therefore, anyone who denies that Jesus is the Son of God cannot be a child of God. It is why Gentiles without the Anointed One are said to be “living without the Anointed One. The Jewish people who belonged to God had nothing to do with you. The promises He gave to them were not for you. You had nothing to hope for in this world. You were without God.For once, you were full of darkness, “but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light!”[15] Therefore, it is necessary that we earnestly stand for the necessity of Christianity as the altar and anchor of our salvation. We do not want, after we accept the Son, to have Him taken away from us and our faith and deprive us of the Father’s presence and availability through Him.”[16]

In a later sermon, Arminius discussed the disagreement among Christians. He points out that those often caught up in such discord are those raised to rely on the sacred rites of the Church. They will not permit any neutrality. Either you are for them or against them. Without any advances toward understanding both sides, it forces an undecided individual to accept one of four options: 1) Seek the third opinion as a compromise. 2) Look for religion with less complicated issues. 3) Place Christianity on a level with all other religions and, therefore, not crucial for heaven. Or 4) disregard Christianity and all other forms of religion as the product of human thinking, and thus not a divine revelation.

The fact is, says Arminius, a third party will not be neutral but become part of the dispute. Looking for another religion or placing Christianity on a level with them ignores the saying that, “If it is true, then it alone is true.” Christianity is not as accommodating as paganism in joining hands with other religions. Christianity admits no other system as its associate. Rejection of what the Bible teaches only makes you an infidel or atheist.[17]

John Owen (1616-1683)  tells us a distinct honor was ascribed in verse twenty-three to God’s Son as a person according to His oneness in nature with the Father. And our duty is pressed with the highest enforcement; he that honors not the Son honors not the Father. “He who denies the Son has not the Father.” Later on, John says, “This is the word He spoke: God gave us life that lasts forever, and this life is in His Son. 12 He that has the Son has life. He that does not have the Son of God does not have life.”[18] If we fail in recognizing this, whatever we pretend to do, we do not worship nor honor God at all. And there is reason to give this warning – the fear that this great fundamental principle of our religion is, if not disbelieved, is not taken seriously by the world.[19]

Owen goes on to talk about the Anointed One’s love and mercy. He says that God’s pardoning mercy, or grace, would be of little value without His love. Therefore, Love and Mercy are those properties by which we know God. No one can obtain a single glimpse of God through or by the Anointed One without these principles. Some try to know God through icons or idols. There is no way to know God except by the Son. If you do not know the Son, you do not know the Father. To know God through the Son is to know His love and the pardoning mercy of the Anointed One.

The Apostle John received this revelation from the Holy Spirit: “We know God’s Son has come. He has given us the understanding of knowing Him, Who is the true God. We are joined with the true God through His Son, Jesus the Anointed One. He is the true God and the life that lasts forever.”[20]  

Now, says Owen, these virtues of God were revealed by the Anointed One in His teachings. In this revelation, God used the Apostle John as a prophet of the church with these words of Jesus: “I have revealed You to the ones You gave me from this world. They were always Yours. You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your Word.”[21]


[1] KJV has “a” liar, and the NIV has “the” liar.

[2] See 1 John 2:22-23

[3] Brown, Raymond E., The Epistles of John, op. cit., p. 351

[4] Lieu, Judith, I, II, III John, op. cit., pp. 105-106

[5] Matthew 11:27

[6] John 5:22-23; See 8:19; 10:30; 14:9-10; 15:23-24

[7] 2 John 1:9-11

[8] 1 Corinthians 12:3

[9] Bede the Venerable: Bray, G. (Ed.), op. cit., 1-3 John, p. 190

[10] See Hosea 1:11, 3:5; Micah 2:13; Amos 9:11; Zechariah 9:9

[11] Iraneaus of Lyons: Against Heresies, Bk. 4, Ch. 6

[12] See Matthew 23

[13] Calvin, John: Institutes of the Christians Religion, Vols. 1-4, Ch. 6, pp. 358-365

[14] Hebrews 5:9 – New Living Translation (NLT)

[15] Ephesians 2:12; 5:8

[16] Orations of James Arminius: Oration 2, The Object of Theology, p. 63

[17] Ibid. p. 128

[18] 1 John 5:11-12

[19] John Owen: Vol 2, Christologia, Ch. 9, pp. 141-142

[20] 1 John 5:20

[21] John 17:6

About drbob76

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