WALKING IN THE LIGHT

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

By Dr. Robert R. Seyda

FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN

CHAPTER TWO (Lesson LXVIII) 06/25/21

2:26 These remarks of mine about the Antichrist are pointed at those who would dearly love to blindfold you and lead you astray.

COMMENTARY

Ernst Dryander (1843-1922) writes, dear Christians, it is not for us to bring about or force this separation, even though we live in an age of unreality and lukewarmness. To attempt to sift out the numberless half-hearted, nominal Christians, in order that there may be a select company of the faithful ones – this task is not ours. Far from it! God, the Father alone, can do that, and at some time, He will perhaps do it.

Our duty consists in this, says Dryander, that our faith should have complete mastery over every sinful tendency. Also, it should rule and guide every action in our life so that beliefs become more apparent in our daily conduct. That way, the indwelling power and love of the Anointed One should shine brighter from within us. I pray to God, says Dryander, that those whose religion is only an outward, unreal, sham, withdraw themselves, while those who yearn for the strength of such faith would be more powerfully attracted.[1]

2:27a But you have received the Holy Spirit as a gift, and He lives within you, so you don’t need any help in finding out what is genuine. For the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know, and what He teaches you is true, not false. So, stay in union with the Anointed One as He taught you to do.

EXPOSITION

The one factor that these false prophets and deceiving spirits could not misinform or mislead was the indwelling Holy Spirit in the believer. This Spirit of God not only knew the only way to salvation and heaven, but how to get there. As we read in Jeremiah, this indwelling of God’s Spirit was a promise made long ago.[2] Jesus Himself verified this promise when He told His disciples that this Helper whom the Father sent would teach them everything they needed to know and help them to remember all that He told them. This Helper was none other than the Holy Spirit that the Father would send in His name.[3] This meaning of the Holy Spirit coming in Jesus’ name implied that the Spirit would come to continue the work that Jesus started with the same divine power and authority. That means whatever the Spirit does, He does it as Jesus would have done it.

For example, Paul gives his testimony to this same effect. Whatever he was telling the Corinthians, it did not come from words written under the inspiration of human wisdom, but concepts taught to him by the Holy Spirit. We use the Spirit’s words to explain spiritual truths.[4] And as Paul wrote the Ephesians from prison, he reminded them that some of the things they were hearing are not what they learned about the Anointed One from him. Since they heard about Jesus and learned the truth that comes only from Him, they must remain steadfast in His teachings.[5]

Paul was also proud of the Thessalonians because of the way they accepted his message. They heard it and took it as God’s message, not Paul’s own. And it works for those who believe.[6] And in a letter to young Timothy, the Apostle Paul firmly believes that the Lord chose him to be a teacher and a missionary to teach faith and truth to those who do not know God. He was not lying, but telling them the facts that he received from the Anointed One Himself.[7]

But Paul was not the only one who felt this way. The Apostle Peter wrote to his constituents and to those who questioned the reliability of his message. He told them it had nothing to do with fiction when he told them about the power of our Lord Jesus the Anointed One and of His coming again. Peter saw His immense power with his physical eyes. That was when He received honor and splendor from God the Father, a voice came to Him from the All-powerful God, saying, “This is My much-loved Son. I am delighted with Him.”[8] As we know, the most trusted testimony in a court of law is that which comes from an eyewitness.

Therefore, John was confident that his eyewitness testimony came directly from the Son of God. It was Jesus Himself who said to any doubters, “If you continue to accept and obey my teaching, you are my followers. You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”[9] Paul had the same message for the Colossians. He let them know that they accepted Jesus as their Messiah and Lord, so they must continue to live by following His teachings and example.[10]

In one of the early Creeds of the Church, the question, “Why is the Son of God called Jesus, that is a Savior?” The answer is: Because He saves us and delivers us from our sins, and likewise because we ought not to seek, neither can find salvation in any other. Then the next question asks, “Do such then believe in Jesus the only Savior, who seek their salvation and welfare of saints, of themselves, or anywhere else?” The answer is, they do not. Though they boast of Him in words, yet in deeds, they deny Jesus is the only Savior. Therefore, if Jesus is not their complete Savior, they must find a way to gain salvation independently. So far, no one has been able to accomplish this.[11]

COMMENTARY

Augustine uses the term “teaches” some eleven times in his sermon on, verses eighteen through twenty-seven. He quotes the Apostle John saying that believers need no teaching because the “unction” itself is instruction. The Holy Spirit counsels them concerning certain things they need to know, not found in books. The indwelling Spirit teaches them not to go back into sin as though they were untaught. The Holy Spirit’s teaching goes to the heart, not the mind. He teaches them as a master with expertise. God’s Spirit instructs them with inspired teaching.[12] Augustine preaches in another sermon that the Holy Spirit teaches what God says because God cannot lie; He teaches that which we cannot articulate.[13]

Thomas Aquinas (1225-1275) contemplated whether the gift of understanding is in all who are in a state of grace? It would seem, he responds, that the gift of spiritual knowledge is not in all who are redeemed. Pope Gregory the Great says that “that duller minds, when joined with the wise, are fed by their understanding.”[14] Now many who are in a state of grace suffer from the “dullness” of the mind. Therefore, the gift of understanding is not in all who are in a state of grace. Some who have sanctifying grace may suffer dullness of mind concerning things that are not necessary for salvation; the Holy Spirit only instructs them on essential truths. But this seems to go against what John says here in verse twenty-seven.

On the contrary, says Aquinas, for it is written: “They know nothing; they understand nothing. They walk around in the dark. All that the earth is built upon is shaking.” But no one who is in a state of grace walks in darkness, according to Jesus: “Anyone who follows Me will not walk in darkness. He will have the Light of Life.”[15] Therefore, no one who is in a state of grace is without the gift of understanding. He continues, there must be the correctness of the will since grace prepares a person’s choices for good.[16]

The Greek philosopher Aristotle says that the object of the will is to be understood. Now the God’s Spirit does not force a person to do what’s right, says Aquinas, unless there is already some knowledge of the truth.[17] So, just as the Holy Spirit leads a person’s will toward some supernatural truth by the gift of love, also He uses the gift of understanding. He enlightens the human mind so that it knows some divine truth toward which a sanctified will moves. Therefore, as the gift of love is in those who have sanctifying grace, so is the gift of understanding.[18]

Someone asks Aquinas another question on whether discernment is in all those who have grace. To some, it would seem that far-sightedness is not in all saved by grace. Carefulness requires diligence, that one may foresee what needs correcting. But many who have grace do not have this alertness. Therefore, not all in grace have premeditation. “Not true at all,” Aquinas responds, “no person has grace unless they are virtuous.”[19] Now no one can be ethical without insight. Pope Gregory says that “other ethics cannot be virtues at all unless they prudently affect what they desire to accomplish.”[20] Therefore, all who are in grace have foresight.[21]


[1] Dryander, E., A Commentary on the First Epistle of St. John in the Form of Addresses, op. cit., pp. 78

[2] Jeremiah 31:33-34

[3] John 14:26; 16:13

[4] 1 Corinthians 2:13

[5] Ephesians 4:20-21

[6] 1 Thessalonians 2:13

[7] 1 Timothy 2:7

[8] 2 Peter 1:16-17

[9] John 8:21-32; See 15:4-7

[10] Colossians 2:6

[11] Creeds of the Church: The Heidelberg Catechism (1563), AGES Software, Of God the Son, 11. Lord’s Day, Question 30, p. 28; Also see Joel 2:28

[12] Augustine: Ten Homilies on the First Epistle of John, Homily 3, pp. 945-955

[13] Ibid. Ten Homilies on First Epistle of John, Homily 4, pp. 956-966

[14] Gregory the Great, Morals, Bk. 2, ⁋49

[15] John 8:12

[16] Augustine of Hippo. The Father’s Church, Vol. 35, Fathers of the Truth, New York, 1957, Bk. 4, Ch. 3, pp. 178-179

[17] Aristotle, De Anima, Bk. 3, Ch. 7, pp. 42-43

[18] Thomas Aquinas: Summa Theologica, Vol. 3, pp. 99-100

[19] If we take this as a part of doctrine, then it is clear that Aquinas feels that in order to be right with God you must first get right. Such is the teaching of salvation by works.

[20] Pope Gregory the Great I, Morals, op. cit., Bk. 2, ⁋46

[21] Ibid. pp. 572-573

About drbob76

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