WALKING IN THE LIGHT

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

By Dr. Robert R. Seyda

FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN

CHAPTER TWO (Lesson LXXIII) 07/01/21

2:28 And now, my little children, stay in happy fellowship with the Lord so that when He comes, you will be sure that all is well and will not have to be ashamed and shrink back from meeting Him.

Did not the Apostle Peter warn us all that there will be those who go around saying, “He promised to come again, where is He?” Since our forefathers died, they complain, everything continues the way it has always been. They prefer not to remember that God spoke, and the heavens came into existence. Water covered the whole earth until God told it to recede to reveal the ground. Then back in Noah’s day, the land was covered again with water as in Genesis One. So, the sky we see and the planet we live on He will preserve by His word. He will maintain everything until destroyed by fire. That’s the day everyone will stand before God, with sinners removed to a pit with the devil, and the saints then gather with the Lamb to rule the earth and the sky.[1]

COMMENTARY

Clement of Alexandria (150-216 AD) says that when the Lord appears at his second coming, the one who knows the Son and the Father according to spiritual knowledge will have confidence and not confounded, for confusion is a great punishment.[2]

Cyril, Archbishop of Jerusalem (313-386 AD), lectured on the mysteries of being anointed with holy oil consecrated to God and His service. His text is taken from verses twenty through twenty-eight here in this second chapter. First, Cyril mentions, you should know that in earlier Scriptures, there lies the symbol of this Chrism – “anointing.” For what Moses imparted to his brother according to the command of God, made him High-priest, after bathing in water, he anointed him; and Aaron was called the Anointed One, evidently from the typical Chrism. So also, the High-priest, in advancing Solomon to the kingdom, anointed him after he bathed in Gihon Spring.[3]

To them, however, these things happened figuratively. But John tells his readers, your anointing is not a figure of speech; the Holy Spirit truly anointed you. That’s because the Anointed One is the source of your salvation. He is the First-fruit, and you are the harvest. Therefore, if the First-fruit is holy, it will manifest its holiness in the harvest also.

Cyril goes on to advise that we keep this uncontaminated: for it will teach us all things. If it abides in you, as you have just heard declared by the blessed John about this “unction.” For this holy thing is a spiritual safeguard of the body and salvation of the soul. It is what Isaiah prophesied about, “And on this mountain, He will destroy the covering which is over all people, the covering spread over all nations. He will take away death for all time. The Lord God will dry tears from all faces. He will take away the shame of His people from all the earth. For the Lord has spoken.”[4] So, says Cyril, having been anointed with this holy ointment of the Holy Spirit, keep it unspotted and unblemished in you, pressing forward with God’s work, and well-pleasing to the Captain of your salvation, Jesus the Anointed One, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen![5]

Bede the Venerable (672-735 AD) proposes that those who stand firm against the persecutions of unbelievers and the ridicule which comes from worldly people around them will have complete confidence when the Anointed One comes again because they know that the patience of God’s waiting children will not perish at the end. But anyone who is ashamed to stand up for Christ in this life or to do anything else which the Lord commands, or who in time of persecution is afraid to be known as a believer, will have no confidence at all when Christ returns because he has not stuck to his profession of faith in this life.[6]

William Burkitt (1650-1703) notes that Christians, gracefully enlightened by the Spirit of God, need no new gospel or doctrine. But they do need further teaching in the Good News they have. It will increase and improve what they know. Unfortunately, nonconformist groups have arguments drawn from external Biblical teachings that go against all religious education. It is the Spirit who instructs us that what God says is superior to what humans say. At the same time, the Spirit sends messages through human vessels, and not immediately from Himself. When seducers can show that they have such immediate and extraordinary revelations from the Holy Spirit, as was bestowed on the early church Christians, then let them insist on the necessity of religious teaching, but not before.[7]

Dr. William Warburton, (1698-1779) Bishop of Gloucester, says: “The late appearance of Antichrist was a doctrine so universally received in the primitive church that it was like a proverbial saying among them. That’s why the Apostle John takes the occasion to preach on the Doctrine. With it, he warns his followers against the antichrist spirit.”[8]

B. F. Westcott (1825-1901) says: “As we look forward, a season of painful distress is coming that will separate us from that which is secret.” And again, Westcott says, “The post-biblical times to come will sharply differ from the period of tribulation that will follow. And the last days were thought of as a difficult time that will usher in the tribulation period, ending with divine victory declared.”[9] Then says, Westcott, it is well worth considering that not even once, in any Christian writing until the middle of the nineteenth century (1850), is there the faintest thought given to the church escaping this time of trouble during the antichrist.[10] If God did not spare the Apostle John from the claws of the antichrist spirit, there’s no reason the church should expect God to treat them any differently.

Richard Rothe (1799-1867) says that John now looks back before looking forward. It’s like saying, “look back where you came from and then look forward to where you are going.” John wants his readers to know that they must understand the manifestation of the Anointed One within the whole context of His reappearing in His glory at the end of days. God did not call, redeem, choose, sanctify, and fill them with His Spirit to merrily go on their way. From the moment a person is born again, they start living with their future in mind. Forget the past and concentrate on where they are going. For sure, says Rothe, it must certainly be an object of intense longing on the part of every Christian to actually behold Him in whom they believe.[11] [12]

Spiritual detective Sir Robert Anderson (1841-1918) says that one of the forgotten truths about the Scriptures is the bema[13]of the Anointed One. And the wish to get rid of it is a profound reflection upon the Christianity of our times. If we are to “have confidence, and not to be ashamed before Him at His coming,” as John says here in verse twenty-eight, it befits us, instead of ignoring the truth – which convicts us here and now, to judge both heart and conduct in the light of it.

Any Christian, says Anderson, who has a redacted version of 2 Corinthians where they deleted the judgment seat of the Anointed One, would be well-advised to hear what Paul told the Colossians: “Remember, the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward. The Master you are serving is the Anointed One. But if you do what is wrong, you will be paid back for the wrong. God has no favorites.”[14] [15]

Adam Clarke (1762-1832) agrees with many other Bible scholars that this verse twenty nine in chapter two should be the beginning of chapter three. In fact, we can view it as a preamble or preface to what chapter three then has to say: “Behold!” It is also challenging to separate the wording and subject in John’s epistle from his Gospel.

When put together, look at how one English translation makes this so clear: “Once you’re convinced that he is right and righteous, you’ll recognize that all who practice righteousness are God’s true children. What marvelous love the Father has extended to us! Just look at it – we’re called children of God! That’s who we really are. But that’s also why the world doesn’t recognize us or take us seriously because it has no idea who He is or what He’s up to.”[16] [17]


[1] 2 Peter 3:4

[2] Clement of Alexandria Bray G. (Ed.) 1-3 John, Adumbrations, Adumbrations, p. 191

[3] 1 Kings 1:33

[4] Isaiah 25:7-8

[5] The Catechetical Lectures of Cyril, Archbishop of Jerusalem, Lecture 21, pp. 342-344

[6] Bede the Venerable: Bray, G. (Ed.), op. cit., 1-3 John, p. 191

[7] William Burkitt: First Epistle of John, op. cit., p. 764

[8] Warburton, William: Sermons and Discourses on Various Subjects and Occasions, J. and R. Tonson, and A. Millar, London, 1867, Vol. 3, p. 283

[9] Brooke Foss Westcott: The Epistles of St. John, the Greek text, published by Macmillan and Co. Cambridge, 1892, Ch. II, p. 69

[10] Cameron, Robert: The First Epistle of John, op. cit., pp. 92-93

[11] Cf. Hebrews 12:2

[12] Rothe, Richard: The Expository Times, op. cit., September 1892, p. 553

[13] Bema is the enclosed space surrounding the altar; the sanctuary or chancel in East Orthodox Churches. In Western Churches it is the area surrounding the altar. But in the Bible, bema refers to the Judgment Seat of the Anointed One (2 Cor. 5:10)

[14] Colossians 3:24-25; cf. Ephesians 6:9

[15] Sir Robert Anderson: Forgotten Truths, Ch. 11, p. 68

[16] 1 John 2:29-3:1 – The Message

[17] Adam Clarke: First Epistle of John, op. cit., p. 377

About drbob76

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