WALKING IN THE LIGHT

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

By Dr. Robert R. Seyda

FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN

CHAPTER TWO (Lesson LXV) 06/21/21

2:23 For a person who doesn’t believe in the Anointed One, God’s Son, can’t call God, Father. But they who have the Anointed One, God’s Son, also have God as their Father.

Due to this knowledge, says Owen, believers received unexplainable evidence of the eternal power of the Godhead. But this knowledge depends on an acquaintance with the person of the Anointed One, wherein we see the express image and beams of the glory of His father manifested. As the Scriptures declare: “The Son radiates God’s glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command. When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven.”[1] [2]

James Macknight (1721-1800) sees the Apostle John further identifying these “antichrists” that were beginning to infect the body of the Anointed One. They deny that Jesus is the Anointed One, that He is the Son of the Father in heaven, and the promise of eternal life as coming from them. That’s why John then says that another reason for his writing them is to keep them from being seduced by these false teachers.[3]

Samuel E. Pierce (1746-1829) suggests that we use this text first without the addition. Who is a liar but he that denies that Jesus is the Anointed One? He is an antichrist that denies the Father and the Son. Whosoever denies the Son, has no relation with the Father. Thus, it most evidently appears, here is the whole substance of the text itself; what follows do not add to it. Whether it is agreed to or not, it does not corrupt the doctrine in it. No one can show that this is true. It is only an explanation of reality.[4]

Adam Clarke (1762-1832) believes we can render verse twenty-two as “Those who deny the Son do not belong to the Father. Those who declare the Son belongs to the Father.” It leads very comfortably into what verse twenty-four has to say about those who do declare the Son. Clarke says that those who continue in the doctrines concerning the incarnation, passion, death, resurrection, ascension, and intercession of the Lord Jesus, which they heard preached from the beginning by His apostles. When done, they will continue to be in union with the Son and the Father.[5]

Robert Candlish (1760-1854) gives a rather poetic tone to his interpretation of what the Apostle John says here in verse twenty-three. He writes:

        See how low He stoops – how condescending none but a holy God and lost souls can tell,

                    like Jesus, the Anointed One down into the depths of sin’s guilt and hell.

         And above the head of the Anointed obedient righteous One, the dark clouds of fury roll.

                    Do not deny Him; acknowledge Him as the Redeemer of your soul.

          Confess that “Jesus is the Anointed One,” and you are not ashamed of His cross.

                    It is your glory, and it may well come across.

For what fruit is yours through not denying, but acknowledging, the Son, asks Candlish. He came from the Father as His Anointed One to suffer humiliation for you. It must be more than narrowly escaping punishment and being saved by the smallest margin. That would be nothing to ridicule. But what privileges are yours now? What hope for eternal life? He and the Father are one. He inherits the Father’s kingdom, riches, and joys. Jesus has the Father’s heart. He has the Father Himself. And nothing will please Him more than you’re acknowledging Him brings you into union with the Father as He and the Father are of one accord.[6]

Henry Alford has a lengthy treatment of this verse. His main point is this: Not only are there antichrists who deny that Jesus is the Son of God, but by denying the Anointed One, they prohibit any access to their lives. In so doing, they also deny the Father the same privilege. It becomes more complicated by the fact that a person cannot get to know the Father without knowing the Son.[7] So, there’s no sense in any Unitarian to say that they do not accept Yeshua of Nazareth as the Son of God but accept God the Father. That is as ridiculous as saying that while you are favorable to the flames in the fireplace, you don’t want the heat they provide.

Johannes Ebrard (1819-1891) makes an interesting observation on verses twenty-two and twenty-three. Identifying Jesus as the Anointed One from God places a lie and truth in opposition to one another. He does so in comprehensive yet straightforward terms. His writing here is simple enough for children to understand, while those older and more mature find it enlightening. In fact, says Ebrard, there is no passage in all the Scriptures in which, and for which it can support by the ancient saying that truth and lie are like a stream,“in which a child may wade, and an elephant bathe.”[8]

To put the idea of truth and lie another way, let us imagine that reality is like a pool of water where there is a shallow portion and a deep section. Whether you wade in the shallow part or swim in the deeper section, you can claim you were in the pool. So, it is with the debate over Jesus being the Son of God. There are those in the shallow portion who say Jesus was the Messiah; He just wasn’t God’s Son in the sense of His offspring. Others in the deeper section say that Jesus could only be the Messiah because He is the only begotten Son of God. Despite all the contention, one is a lie, and the other is the truth. They both cannot be correct.

Augustus Strong (1834-1921) says that the Trinity tells us something of God’s absolute and essential nature, not simply what He is to us but also in Himself. If the Anointed One is the eternal Son of the Father, God is indeed and in essence a Father; the social nature, the spring of love is of the very essence of the eternal Being; the communication of life, the reciprocation of affection dates from beyond time, belongs to the very being of God. The Unitarian idea of a solitary God profoundly affects our conception of God, reduces it to mere power, identifies God with abstract cause and thought. Love is grounded in power, not power in love. The omniscient Father, omnipotent Son, and omnipresent Spirit is the genius of the universe.”[9] In other words, He does not possess these traits; He is all of these.

John James Lias (1834-1923) believes that there are “three arguments” to be noted. (1) The denial of the Anointed One is a lie and even breathes the spirit of Antichrist himself. (2) It is a denial of God’s own Son. And since He, the Father, manifests Himself by the Son, and Him alone, (3) to deny the Son is to deprive ourselves of the Father. Similarly, to confess the Son is to receive the Divine Life of the Father. To acknowledge the Son is to realize what He is, namely, the imparter of Divine Light and Life, the medium whereby all that is in the Father He brought into the world through His Son. Those who confess this open their souls to the fullness of Divine Father, who is inherent in the Son.[10]

Alonzo R. Cocke (1858-1901) has an interesting illustration for us to picture what the Apostle John says here. He begins with “Jesus is the central sum of all truth,” and, therefore, to deny that Jesus is the Anointed One, in whatever way, makes one a universal liar. Denying Jesus, one has rejected the central core of truth.[11] Some say that Jesus was a blessed and devoted man who was a champion of compassion for humanity. But they deny that He is eternal life manifesting itself and the fountain of divine energy. It is a trick to claim for themselves an infallible authority to remove Jesus from His throne and put themselves in His place. No one can claim that Jesus is the Anointed One, a prophet, priest, and king. He is the foundation of all apostolic teaching, the root of the Gospel. To deny the Anointed One or any of these offices is the play the role of a liar.[12]

James Morgan (1859-1942) suggests that the antichrist does not deny the existence of the Father and the Son as two distinct beings, the one dwelling in heaven and the other on earth. Apparently, the reference is to some union between them, which some might feel inclined or tempted to deny. Nor have we far to go to discover what that union is. The apostle John states it has to be that of a Father and Son. But there’s more to it than that. It goes beyond the relationship between God and the angels, or of God and humankind. In this relationship, the Son is the equal of the Father.

The Jews understood Him to claim that equality when He called Himself the Son of God, and so charged Him with blasphemy, and proceeded to stone Him. It is that of which our Lord often spoke, saying, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father! So, why are you asking to see Him? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words I say are not mine, but are from my Father, who lives in me. And He does His work through me.”[13] He does not hesitate to say, “The Father does not say who is guilty. He gives this to the Son to do. He does this so that all people will honor the Son as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father Who sent Him.[14]


[1] Hebrews 1:3

[2] John Owen: Vol 3, Of Communion with God, Ch. 3, p. 106

[3] James Macknight: First Epistle of John, op. cit., pp. 55-56

[4] Pierce, S. E., An Exposition of the First Epistle General of John, op. cit., Vol. 1, p. 250

[5] Clarke, Adam: First Epistle of John, op. cit., p. 76

[6] Candlish, R. S., The First Epistle of John Expounded in a Series of Lectures, op. cit., p. 192

[7] Alford, Henry: Greek NT, op. cit., p. 454

[8] Ebrard, J. H. A. (1860)., Biblical Commentary on the Epistles of St. John, in Continuation of the Work of Olshausen, (W. B. Pope, Trans.), Edinburgh; London; Dublin: T & T Clark; Hamilton, Adams & Co.; John Robertson, p. 188

[9] Strong, Augustus H. Systematic Theology, op. cit., p. 635

[10] Lias, J. J., The First Epistle of John with Exposition, op. cit., pp. 159-160

[11] Martin Luther is incorrect in translating it as “a liar.”

[12] Cocke, A. R. (1895)., Studies in the Epistles of John, op. cit., p. 59

[13] John 14:9b-10

[14] Ibid. 5:22-24

About drbob76

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