WALKING IN THE LIGHT

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

By Dr. Robert R. Seyda

FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN

CHAPTER TWO (Lesson LXXIII) 07/02/21

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.

Barnes goes on to say that John is urging everyone not to be ashamed He appears at His second coming. By having all our hopes taken away; by being held up to the universe as guilty and condemned. We feel embarrassed when our expectations are disappointed; when it revealed that we have a character different from what we professed to have; when stripped of our pretensions to goodness, and the heart is made bare. Many will thus be ashamed on the last day, [1] but it is one of the promises made to those who genuinely believe in the Savior that they shall never be ashamed or confounded.[2]

Frederick Maurice tells us that because some in John the Apostle’s congregation did not believe in the Anointed One as the Son of God, they also denied the Father. Furthermore, they refused being called “children of God.” And since God has the highest authority in the universe, Jesus was not someone who could look up to Him as a Father. He is not someone who came down from a heavenly Father and returned. Neither can this carpenter’s son claim to be a brother to all humanity. Neither can this wandering prophet assert that His Father is also your Father, as minor as this difference may appear. Plus, the message which this pretending Messiah and all His apostles brought to the Jewish and Heathen world was, “You are not distinct creatures, as you imagine yourselves to be. You have one Lord and Head.” Nevertheless, this martyr turned out to be the Son of God who came into our world, submitted to experience our human weaknesses, died on our behalf that He might make us one body in Himself, as God created us to be.

As a consequence, says Maurice, the faithful could not speak to those who deserted them and set up another Messiah, “You are making a doctrinal error.” Instead, they were obliged to say, “You have decided not to recognize God’s Son. You are choosing not to recognize us as fellow believers.” It certainly was a reasonable charge. It was what all these traitors’ words and acts suggested. They revolted from Jesus. He was humble and gentle; because He made Himself one with the most wretched sinner. They said that in so far as His miracles were concerned, although there were signs of a divine anointing, He ceased to be the Anointed One by dying on Calvary. There, any divine blessing He claimed forsook Him. At the same time, John holds that even if Jesus did not prove to them, He was God’s Son through signs and wonders, He could have never confirmed it more convincingly than by His death and resurrection.[3]

Robert Candlish (1760-1854) gives these instructions: Let us keep asking ourselves, at every moment, if He were to appear now, would we have the confidence to greet Him as our Savior? If He were to come into our home, our living room, and manifested Himself and speak to us face to face, would we have enough faith to believe it was real? Could we meet His look of love without embarrassment? Only if He found us “in union with Him,” doing whatever we might be doing “in His name, giving thanks to God His Father.” Yes, but only if He found that we welcomed Him into our hearts.

Candlish goes on to encourage us to always be in union with Him; every day, every hour, every instant, communing with Him, were He to appear this very day, this same hour, this very instant. He is about to look; to appear suddenly; to come quickly. Oh, don’t let it happen that we would not welcome Him if we were in such a state to cause our shrinking back from Him in shame. Instead, we would rather that when He appears, we are in a position to spring forward with open eyes and outstretched arms, to welcome Him whom we love; let us see to it that we “are in union with Him.” Let us always be in such obedience and behavior that He would look at us as his “little children.” So, it was the Apostle John who counselled himself when he closed the book of the Revelation. “He who testifies to all these things repeats: “I’m on my way! I’ll be there soon!” Yes. Come, Master Jesus.[4] [5]

My father used to use an illustration to make this point whenever he preached on meeting Jesus one day. He often asked the congregation, “If you were to receive a phone call from your pastor telling you that Jesus was here and wanted to come over and visit you, and planned to be there in five minutes, would you simply wait at the door to greet Him, or would you be flying around the house getting rid of magazines, drinks, ash trays, vinyl records on the record player, and change your clothes in a hurry?” Or, could you sit quietly and say, “I don’t mind if He sees me just like I am, and there’s nothing in my house I need to hide or change?” Of course, you could see members shaking their heads in terror if that were to happen. We, said my dad, it will happen at an hour when you least expect it.[6] So why not get everything ready now?

John Stock (1817-1884) says that the correct preparation to meet the Anointed One at His coming consists of being in union with Him. As we have seen, the blessed Apostle John does not hesitate to repeat wholesome and indispensable truths. Again, and again, he urges constant communion with the Anointed One. That results in living under the unction of the Holy Spirit we receive from the Lord. It enables us to be devoted to the Anointed One, continuing to do what we learned from and about Him.

It allows following Him tirelessly in righteousness and true holiness; a strong stand for truth; and a stern and holy rejection of all antichrists, no matter from which direction they come. A planted tree, to be fruitful, must stay rooted in its cultivated soil. Detached from the Anointed One, we become deserters in action, as well as in disbelief. Being in union with Him allows us to bear fruit for God’s glory, despite the many hindrances from those who are for us and those against us. By doing that, we will not cringe in fear at the reappearing of our blessed Lord and Savior from heaven.[7]

Marvin Vincent (1834-1922) finds the phrase, “be ashamed when seeing Him,” in need of explanation. The fundamental thought is that of separation and shrinking from God through the shame of conscious guilt. We find the same construction in the Septuagint Version: “Shame will cover you, and you will blush to think of all those times you sacrificed to idols.”[8]You cheapen yourself when you change course so often – you will be disappointed by Egypt, too, just as you were disappointed in Assyria.”[9] [10] And what shame were these prophets talking about? Sad to say, if Jesus were to return today, so many of His children would know more about matinée idols and music icons than Him and His Word.

As others have done, John James Lias (1834-1923) notes that some commentators say that this verse could be part of the beginning of the next chapter. But Lias feels that it is more likely the last ideas of what he has been saying. No one who has not devoted some time to the study of John’s writings can fully understand the excellent coherence, as well as the depth of the thought, in this portion of the Epistle.[11] Lias goes on to say that in the former part of the Epistle, staying in union with the Anointed One is regarded as the means whereby we may resist the temptations of the age and society in which we live. Here it is put before us as the ground of our boldness, which we sometimes call “blessed assurance.”[12]

James Morgan (1859-1942) says that apart from those who will not be ashamed to meet the Lord when He returns, there is another class of people, very different from these, “who will be ashamed when He suddenly reappears.” Thus, in Daniel’s revelation, we are told, “Many of those whose bodies lie dead and buried will rise, some to everlasting life and some to shame and everlasting disgrace.”[13] It is in harmony with what our Lord said, “Don’t be so surprised! Indeed, the time is coming when all the dead in their graves will hear the voice of God’s Son.”[14]

How awful it will be to be ashamed on that day! Remorseful over our unbelief, embarrassed by so many unforgiven sins, humiliated by our behavior, distressed over missed opportunities, neglected privileges, and lost souls! How blessed it will be not to be ashamed to greet Him at His coming. Not ashamed of Him, who now appears in His glory! Not ashamed of the hope we had in Him, while men reviled it? Not ashamed of the realization of that blessedness for which we long looked and prayed! Oh, brethren, pleads Morgan, get in union with the Anointed One now, stay totally committed to Him, and so you “Will have confidence, and not be ashamed when He sees you at His coming.[15]

Robert Law (1860-1919) sees this section of the Apostle John’s instructions under the heading “Walking in the Light,” as tested by Belief. He points out that the Light of God not only reveals Sin and Righteousness, as well as the children of God and the world in their natural character. To walk in the Light, people must confess Sin, follow the road of doing things right, love their fellow Christian, and reject any love for the world. It also reveals Jesus in His genuine character as the Anointed One, the Incarnate Son of God. And, everyone who calls themselves a Christian will be tested by the world’s reception or rejection of the truth by which they live.

Throughout this portion of John’s epistle, says Law, the Apostle’s point of view is that of fellowship with God upon receiving and living in the light revealed in Himself. This Light opens up truths in the spiritual realm. It exposes the lies of those who say they have no sin, who do not keep God’s commandments, who no love for each other, and who buy into the spirit of the antichrist. They claim new enlightenment that denies Jesus as the Anointed One. Those who do this does not live in the Light. Instead, they remain lost in the darkness of unbelief, misbelief, and disbelief.[16]


[1] Matthew 7:21-23

[2] Albert Barnes: New Testament Notes, op. cit., p. 4834

[3] Maurice, F. D., The Epistles of St. John, op. cit., p. 154

[4] Revelation 22:20

[5] Candlish, R. S., The First Epistle of John Expounded in a Series of Lectures, op. cit., pp. 213-214

[6] Cf. Matthew 24:44

[7] Stock, John: An Exposition of the First Epistle General of St. John, op. cit., pp. 216-217

[8] Isaiah 1:29

[9] Jeremiah 2:36

[10] Vincent, Marvin: Word Studies in the NT, op. cit., p. 349

[11] Lias, J. J., The First Epistle of John with Exposition, op. cit., p. 177

[12] Ibid. The First Epistle of John with Homiletic Treatment, op. cit., p. 177

[13] Daniel 12:2

[14] John 5:28

[15] Morgan, J. (1865), An Exposition of the First Epistle of John, op. cit., pp. 158-159

[16] Law, Robert: (1909), The Tests of Life: A Study of the First Epistle of St. John, op. cit., pp. 10-11

About drbob76

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