By Dr. Robert R. Seyda


CHAPTER TWO (Lesson XXIX) 05/03/21

2:8 But what I write is also a new commandment. It is a true one; you can see its truth in Jesus and yourselves. The darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining.

The concept of light and darkness representing those in union with God and those in partnership with the devil was not new. Even the Psalmist exclaimed, “The Lord is my Light and my salvation – so why should I be afraid?”[1] And what beautiful words for John to have memorized from the last prophet to write God’s message to His children: “You who reverence My Name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in His wings.”

The prophet Malachi poetically put the same thought by saying, “Goodness will shine on you like the rising sun with healing power in its rays. You will run free and happy, like young calves let out to pasture.”[2] John expresses a similar thought in his Gospel.  And with such Light shining on us, we are less apt to go back into the darkness where unholy practices await anyone who returns to their former den of iniquity. So, stay in the Light because He is Light!

Just look at John’s own words: “Life began by Him. His Life was the Light for humanity. The Light shines in the darkness. The darkness has never been able to put out the Light.”[3] And for sure, John never forgot the words of our Lord when He told everyone in Jerusalem, “I am the Light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness because you will have the light that leads to life.[4] And when the Master told the disciples that He did not have long to stay, He reminded them, “My light will shine for you just a little longer. Walk in the light while you can, so the darkness will not overtake you. Those who walk in the darkness cannot see where they are going.”[5] And to his young protégé, Timothy, Paul’s words of encouragement about the ministry of the Messiah on earth was that “He made all of this plain to us by the appearance of the Anointed One, Jesus, our Savior. He broke the power of death and illuminated the way to life and immortality through the Good News.”[6]

John turns a corner and says that he does have something new for them to realize, and that is, they must implement this new commandment in their lives before it is possible to obey the original one. And this new commandment came from the lips of the Anointed One: “I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.”[7] And this is very important; it will help those who watch you and hear you speak about your Christian faith, that you are indeed one of the Anointed One’s followers when they see how you love one another. As a matter of fact, the Anointed One repeated it later to make sure they understood its importance.[8]

But as Paul saw it, there was more to be revealed. So, he told the Corinthians, you know of the generous loving-favor shown by our Lord Jesus the Anointed One. Although He was rich, He became poor for your good. In that way, He gave up everything so that He could richly bless you.[9] And since we are God’s dear children, we must try to be like Him. So, live a life filled with love, following the example of the Anointed One who loved us so much, He offered Himself on our behalf like a sweet-smelling incense and sacrifice to God.[10]

Even the Apostle Peter found this a necessary word of encouragement and pointed out that since Jesus went through everything we’re going through, and more, we must learn to think like Him. We ought to think of your sufferings as a withdrawal symptom from that old sinful habit of always expecting to get our way. Then we’ll be able to live out our days free to pursue what God wants instead of chasing our desires, trying to enjoy life like unbelievers.[11] In other words, it’s almost like going through detoxification to get rid of the addiction to the enslaving habits of this world. Just trying to avoid such things is not enough; our sinful tendencies must be nailed to the cross with our Lord so that they become a dead thing to us.

When John speaks of the darkness of ungodliness fading away, he implies the world before they saw the Gospel’s Light in the incarnation of the Son of God who came to live among us. We find a similar refrain when King Solomon said, “Take a look outside, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone, the flowers are coming through the ground. Now the season for singing is here. We can even hear the cooing of the returning turtle-dove throughout our land.”[12] And who can forget those inspiring words of the prophet Isaiah, “Those people who live in darkness will see a great Light. They live in a place as dark as death, but a great Light will shine on them.”[13]

The Apostle Paul may have had a similar thought when he issued an alarm to the Roman church that “the night is almost over.” They needed to know that the day was almost here when the whole world would know about Jesus the Messiah. So, stop doing the things done in darkness and take the weapons that help us fight for the Light.[14] He gave the Corinthians a similar warning.[15] Even the Ephesians were subject to such a period of heathen darkness before the Light came to them.[16] And Paul encouraged the Thessalonians that they are children of the Light and the day. They are not of the dark or the night. So, stay awake! Don’t fall asleep like others have done! Watch out; keep your minds alert to what is happening.[17]

Anyone who goes to sleep at night because it gets dark will awaken in the morning when the light dawns.” So, says John, those who were spiritually asleep in the darkness of ignorance about God are now spiritually awake because the Light has come. But not just any light. As the Psalmist says, “The Lord is my Light and Savior. So, why should I fear anyone? The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger. So, I will be afraid of no one?”[18]


Œcumenius (700-800 AD) states that this commandment is new in that it is no longer restricted to Israel as it was under Moses’ law. Under that law, every person was responsible to love their friends and to hate their enemies. But Jesus then turned that around by saying that we should love our enemies and do good to those who hate us.[19] John was concentrating on the fact that these people are human beings like ourselves and not worrying about how they feel toward us.[20]

In what sense is this commandment to love one another new, asks Isho‘dad of Merv (800-900 AD)? To John, the term “commandment” means the revelation of the dispensation. It cannot be called new concerning God, but from the human point of view, it was a mystery hidden in the Creator from the beginning.[21] Clement of Alexandria says the darkness is the darkness of perversion, and the light is the light of faith, working in us according to God’s foreordained plan.[22]

Richard Rothe (1799-1867) tells us that we cannot understand the first half of this verse without knowing the last half. The fact that the Apostle John says it is new only means that it is now reinterpreted by the Anointed One for use by those who follow Him whenever or wherever taught. All we have to do is read the story of the Good Samaritan to see what a change our Lord made in loving our neighbor as ourselves.[23] It is not something we do out of obligation or an act forced on us by an emergency. It should always be on a believer’s mind. Furthermore, it was certainly on our Lord’s mind everywhere He went.[24]

But then John says, it is essential to understand this “because” the darkness is passing and the Light is already shining. Rothe points to how the vagueness of this statement has led to many interpretations. If “ignorance” is taken as “not knowing,” it leaves it open to defining what uninformed people needed to hear. Or, if we take “darkness” to imply the pre-Christian age and the non-Christian condition of humanity, it is speaking of two periods in time.  But somewhat deeper, if we see “darkness” as the world without the presence of the Anointed One, then it is His Light that is shining for all to see. So, the believer’s role in loving one another in this transition from the old to the new requirements that the world must be able to see the change made when they went from being pagan to Christian. John does not leave us in the dark; verses nine and ten explain it best of all.[25]

[1] Psalm 27:1; cf. 36:9; 84:11

[2] Malachi 4:2

[3] John 1:4-5, 9

[4] Ibid. 8:12

[5] Ibid. 12:35

[6] 2 Timothy 1:10

[7] John 13:34-35

[8] Ibid. 15:12-15

[9] 2 Corinthians 8:9

[10] Ephesians 5:1-2

[11] 1 Peter 4:1-2

[12] Song of Solomon 2:11-12

[13] Isaiah 9:2; See 60:1-3

[14] Romans 13:12

[15] 2 Corinthians 4:4-6

[16] Ephesians 5:8

[17] 1 Thessalonians 5:5-6

[18] Psalm 27:1

[19] Matthew 5:43-45a

[20] Œcumenius: Bray, G. (Ed.), op. cit., 1-3 John, p. 180

[21] Isho’dad of Merve, Bray, G. (Ed.)., 1-3 John, op. cit., p. 180

[22] Alexander, Clement, of, Adumbrations, p. 180

[23] Luke 10:25-37

[24] Acts of the Apostles 10:38

[25] Rothe, Richard: The Expository Times, op. cit., August 1891, p. 163

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By Dr. Robert R. Seyda


CHAPTER TWO (Lesson XXVIII) 04/30/21

2:7 My dear friends, I am not writing a new command to you. It is the same command you have had since the beginning. This command is the teaching you have already heard

To put this another way, John was teasing his readers much like a person who stands before an audience and says, “I’m going to tell you something you already know, you’ve heard it from the time of your conversion. It has to do with loving. Yet, I will explain it in a new way because Jesus not only preached this commandment but practiced it to the fullest. In fact, you are already doing what Jesus said you should do. Furthermore, anyone who claims they know all about it but doesn’t practice it is wandering around in the dark.” At this point, everyone in the audience is yelling, “tell  us what you are going to tell us! Don’t keep us hanging like this.” Finally, the speaker says, “Only when you obey this old commandment that Jesus revised, namely, to love your fellow brother and sister in the Lord, will you be living openly in the light of understanding.”

Theologian Augustus H. Strong (1836-1921) offers an insightful thought about how an old commandment is also a new commandment. He points out that “No one can know a person’s thoughts except that person’s spirit, and no one can know God’s thoughts except God’s Spirit. And we have received God’s Spirit (not the world’s spirit), so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us.”[1] As the Roman statesman Cicero said, “Nemo igitur vir Magnus sine aliquo adflatu Divino unquam fuit.” (“Therefore, no great man ever existed who did not enjoy some portion of divine inspiration.”)[2] But dull minds, says Strong, cannot figure out the sayings of the Scriptures, no sinful heart can see the progress of theology from the very first prophecy. For some, the maxim, “The wages of sin are death, but the gift of God is eternal life,”[3] seems beyond their comprehension.

Teachers are needed to demonstrate how theories work or don’t work. The Holy Spirit is required to show us that the “new commandment” illustrated by the death of the Anointed One is only an “old commandment” from the beginning now transformed. The Holy Spirit enables us to enter into the meaning of the Holy One’s revelations in both Scripture and nature, interpret the one by the other, and work out original demonstrations and applications of the truth.[4] Strong’s presentation is somewhat unclear by bringing the natural and supernatural together to make the identical point. However, so is the doctrine of the incarnation in which the Son of God became the son of man, two in one, both for the same purpose.

Harry A. Ironside (1876-1951) says there are three distinct beginnings emphasized in Scripture. First, “In the beginning, God created heaven and the earth.”[5] Secondly, there is a beginning that goes even further back when “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God.”[6] Now, in verse seven, we have that which “was from the beginning” of a new dispensation, the onset of Christianity.[7]

Stephen S. Smalley (1931-2018) sees John’s use of the Greek noun entolē, which is translated here as “commandment,” and implies an order, a charge, precept, and an injunction. Smalley points to the fact that “command” is used in the singular. There is the possibility that in John’s mind, the command he is about to reveal is the only command needed to fulfill the whole Law as outlined by Jesus to the one who questioned what was the greatest of all commandments.[8] Therefore, since Jesus fulfilled the entire Law by His actions, by having Him dwell in us when we obey Him and His words, we also fulfill the Law.[9]

Michael Eaton (1942-2017) refers to the common expectation that the Messiah would bring a new and unsurpassed final era in the story of the human race. As such, Eaton demonstrates the thinking of pre-Christian believers this way:

                              Moses’ Days                                               Jesus’ Day

Messiah is coming>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>/Messiah had not yet come……….……………………

But then Jesus came. He started preaching His message: “The kingdom is at hand,” But it soon became apparent that although the Messiah’s days had begun, the Moses’ days had not finished. There was an overlap “upon those that the culmination of the ages would come.”[10] Therefore, the position of the Christian since Jesus came is as follows:

Moses’ Day                                            Jesus’ Day

Messiah is coming>>>>>>>>>>>>>>/Messiah is here>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

The new days of God’s kingdom came, says Eaton, while the world’s empire was still in full power. It was only after His death and resurrection that He defeated the world realm leader. That’s when the Anointed One declared all authority in heaven and on earth were His.[11] Therefore, those still under the rule of Satan’s dynasty found themselves on the losing end; those in the kingdom of heaven became winners for eternity.[12]

2:8a Yet, this commandment I’m writing to you about is new. Jesus lived the truth of this commandment, and He is living in you. That’s because the darkness of godless thinking is disappearing, and truth-light is shining brightly.


When reading this first part of verse eight, we cannot help but think that the Apostle John is quoting the master’s words.[13] The Apostle Paul wrote how Jesus put His words into action by becoming poor for our good.[14] Paul even told the Ephesians to do what God would do, facing the same situations they encountered each day that called on love in action.[15] It was our Lord’s action, said the Apostle Peter, that helped us have trust and hope in God to be there when we need Him.[16] And, says Peter, “Since the Anointed One suffered and underwent pain, you must have the same attitude He did; you must be ready to suffer, too.”[17]

We don’t know if John was a devoted reader of the works of King Solomon. Still, when sharing that he saw the coming of the Light for understanding to drive away from the darkness of misunderstanding and deception, it paints a similar picture to Solomon’s words.[18] However, since John knows of Jesus’ preference of Isaiah’s words, he could easily recall the prophet’s proclamation: “The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. The light will shine on those living in the land of dark shadows.[19]

In addition, there was Zechariah, the father of the prophecy about John the Baptizer where he said, “Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace
.”[20] And indeed Jesus did, and even confirmed Zechariah’s prophecy about Him.[21]

The Apostle Paul stood before King Agrippa and gave an account of His calling and ministry. He told the magistrate that the Anointed One told him he would be sending him out to the Gentiles, “To open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God. Then they will receive forgiveness for their sins and be given a place among God’s people, who are set apart by faith in me.”[22] And perhaps John heard the Apostle Paul talk about his message to the Roman believers that the night is almost gone, the day is almost here.[23] Furthermore, Paul told the Corinthians that Satan hates the glorious light shining from the Gospel.[24] And when John became the pastor of the congregation in Ephesus, they may have shared with him Paul’s letter that said, “Once you lived in darkness. Now you are living in the light that comes from the Lord. Live as children who have the light of the Lord in them.”[25] He also congratulated the believers in Thessalonica on being children of the light and not of the darkness.[26]

[1] 1 Corinthians 2:11-12

[2] Cicero, De Natura Deorum Academica, The Loeb Classical Library, Vol. XIX, William Heinemann Ltc., London, 1951, Bk. II, p. 282, ⁋167

[3] Romans 6:23

[4] Strong, Augustus H., Systematic Theology, Vol. 1, p. 93

[5] Genesis 1:1

[6] John 1:1

[7] Ironside, H. A. The Epistles of John and Jude (Ironside Expository Commentaries), op. cit., (Kindle Location 86)

[8] Matthew 22:37-39

[9] Smalley, Stephen S., Word Biblical Commentary, Vol. 51, op. cit., p. 55

[10] 1 Corinthians 10:11

[11] Matthew 28:18

[12] Eaton, Michael, 1, 2, 3, John, op. cit., pp. 59-60

[13] John 13:34; 15:12

[14] 2 Corinthians 8:9

[15] Ephesians 5:1-2

[16] 1 Peter 1:21

[17] Ibid. 4:1

[18] Song of Solomon 2:11-12

[19] Isaiah 9:2; See 60:1-3; Matthew 4:16

[20] Luke 1:78-79

[21] John 12;46

[22] Acts of the Apostles 26:17b-18

[23] Romans 13:12

[24] 1 Corinthians 4:4

[25] Ephesians 5:8

[26] 1 Thessalonians 5:5-6

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By Dr. Robert R. Seyda


CHAPTER TWO (Lesson XXVII) 04/29/21

2:7 My dear friends, I am not writing a new command to you. It is the same command you have had since the beginning. This command is the teaching you have already heard

Didymus the Blind (313-398 AD) says that some people objected to what the Apostle John was teaching as a new thing, so he insisted it was not that way.[1] As odd as this may sound back then, I don’t think it would be unusual today. Read the sermons preached in America’s pulpits 100 years ago and compare them to the present age. When was the last time you heard a message on the cross, on the ravages of sin, on sanctification, on holy living, on the resurrection, on the Anointed One’s ascension, on Pentecost, or heaven and hell? The same is true now as it was in John’s day. These things are not new; they’ve been part of the Gospel from the beginning.

Andreas of Cæsarea (600-700 A.D.) says that some may ask if those who have known Jesus from the beginning did not hear about His commandment to love one another? Since they were not Jews (as appears from the end of the letter and told to stay away from idol worship). People everywhere have heard it from Torah?[2] [3] It is often an excuse when they catch someone breaking God’s laws and even man’s laws. “Sorry, officer, I didn’t know you couldn’t change lanes without putting on your turn signal.”

John Trapp has an interesting observation about the Apostle John’s confession that he is not writing anything new regarding loving God and each other. Trapp says that John thoughtfully erases any misgivings of this law being a novelty. We should never set a jealous eye upon that which is new and stop walking on the old-fashion highway;[4] in the footsteps of the saints traveling the ancient paths.[5] God’s children come from a long line of ancient saints.[6]  But idolaters are said to sacrifice to new gods recently appeared.[7] Truth, like wine, is better with age.[8] And of witnesses, Aristotle well saith, the older they are, the more credible because they are less corrupt. As we hear the newest philosophy, as opposed to the most ancient theology, we may justly suspect them of falsehood and delusions, who assume themselves inspired to utter new revelations, bringing to light new truths.[9]

In one of John Wesley’s sermons on Christian Perfection, he addresses those who might object to reading this as the Apostle John talking to fellow believers in the faith. John’s answer makes it clear: “We know all things that are needful for your souls’ health” The Apostle never intended to go on and on about this. So, not allowing him to speak it in absolute terms is evident. The Apostle’s own words later in this chapter state plainly: “I am writing these things to warn you about those who want to lead you astray,”[10] as well as the words he heard from the Master, “Watch out that no one deceives you.”[11] It would have been altogether needless if his readers who had that anointing from the Holy One were not susceptible to forgetting or being mistaken.[12]

Adam Clarke notes that there seems to be a contradiction between verse six (“I am not writing a new commandment for you.”) and verse seven (“I am writing a new commandment for you.”) The Apostle John does not appear to speak about any differences in the essence of the guidelines related to more Light and faith existing in salvation under the Law or Grace. God always wanted people to walk in His Light by loving Him through one another. But the commandment to do so received greater spiritual meaning and additional light when issued by the Anointed One.[13]

In his remarks here on verse seven, Augustus Neander notes that John’s object was not to offer anything new to the congregations. He desired to awaken in them a living sense of what had always been the focus of his instructions. He meant it to guide them in the proper application of that which they already knew. That is why he held up before them the one command of the Lord, which was the sum and substance of all other commandments. The essential nature of practical Christian living stood on this foundation of loving God by loving each other. He wanted to have it etched in their hearts anew, so it would speak louder than ever.[14] So, preaching the Gospel over and over again is beneficial for any congregation to hear. To press it harder and harder into their hearts and minds.

Frederick Maurice notes that it is a curious phrase, “we know that we know Him.” In other words, we must be confident that we know who He is. But it is a familiar one to us in other applications. I say to a friend, “Are you sure you know that person? I am aware that you meet them often. You see them, perhaps, every day; you work with them; you talk with them. But are you sure you know that you know them? Have you got any real insight into their character? Have you any confidence that you are not thinking of them better or worse than they deserve?” These are questions that we often ask and to which we get various answers.

“Sometimes the answer is quite confident,” says Maurice. “I am certain that they are, or that they are not an honest, or a kind, or a wise person.” And yet, it may not inspire us with confidence. We may say, or we may think, “Is that person deceptive? Did they gain my trust through flattery? In due time the mask will fall off, and you will find out your mistake.” To this, you might say, “You’re not the person I thought you were. You fooled me with your pretentious acts of kindness.” You may also find that you misinterpreted their intent. They’ve proven to be a much more dependable friend than you gave them credit.

That’s why now, and then, we are convinced that a friend holds the same opinion about that person. You still are not sure how you arrived at the same belief. Maurice says he thinks it is because your friend helped you understand and appreciate that person. They helped throw light upon what we experienced in the person’s presence to see the wrong impression we formed of them. However, even their good recommendation, especially a very favorable one, still does not satisfy us. We are determined to verify it. We must get to know that person of whom our friend speaks so highly. In the end, we want to be able to say, “I know that I know that person.”[15] It seems that Maurice took the long route to explain that we cannot say we know that we know a person until we experience it ourselves. Of all people, this is true of Jesus, our Lord and Savior.

Christopher Wordsworth believes that the Apostle John’s aimed his mention that he is not writing a new commandment was what he accused the Judaizers and false apostles of doing. They were treating the Gospel as being modifiable, making it thus a novelty. They attempted to limit the mercy of God to only those who were willing to live under the bondage of the Law. Furthermore, they also sought to restrict God’s love to only the Jews or Israel. But John tells his constituents that the Christian doctrine of love is for humanity, and it has been so from the beginning.[16]

Daniel Whedon (1808-1885) remarks that the Apostle John interrupts the current line of thinking twice in this chapter to express his writing’s purpose and feeling. Other writers might have done this in their introduction, but he began with total confidence in his subject, and he makes his remarks parenthetically. This interlude in verses seven and eight meets head-on the objection that his doctrine is a novelty.[17] We might compare it to someone describing the beauty of some wonder of the world, who would interject: “I know what I’m talking about, I’ve been there and saw it with my eyes.”

William Alexander (1824-1911) points out two different Greek terms translated by the same English word here in Epistles. The first is the adjective kainos (“new”), which means: “recently made, fresh, recent unused.” The second is the adjective neos (“new”), which implies: “young, youthful.”[18] Alexander notes that kainos is used here in verse seven. It signifies that it is new in quality to that which it replaces or supersedes as being antiquated or inferior.[19] However, John is not doing away with the original commandment; he is giving a revised edition. And the revisionist is none other than Jesus the Anointed One.[20]

John James Lias (1834-1923) finds that the first question Bible commentators have asked, how is this commandment to love one another fulfilled? The natural reply has been, “brotherly love.” However, some commentators say it is likely that the Apostle chose to introduce the question of brotherly love this way. He does not mention it until verse ten. That brings up another question. Was this commandment already in his mind before he wrote it down, was he just waiting for the right moment? Or, did John purposely choose to introduce it this way?[21]

[1] Didymus the Blind, Bray, G. (Ed.), op. cit., 1-3 John, p. 179

[2] Matthew 13:34

[3] Andreas: Bray, G. (Ed.), op. cit., 1-3 John, p. 180

[4] Jeremiah 16:6

[5] Ibid. 18:15

[6] Isaiah 44:7; Cf. Hebrews 12:1-2

[7] Dueteronomy 32:17

[8] Luke 5:39

[9] Trapp, John: On Epistles of John, op. cit., p. 726

[10] 1 John 2:26

[11] Matthew 24:4

[12] Wesley, John, The Works of, Vol. 6, Sermon 10, p. 11

[13] Clarke, Adam: First Epistle of John, op. cit., 370

[14] See Revelation 3:3

[15] Maurice, F. D., The Epistles of St. John, op. cit., pp. 70-71

[16] Christopher Wordsworth: NT with Introduction, op. cit., p. 110

[17] Whedon, Daniel D. Commentary on NT, op. cit., p. 259

[18] See Hebrews 12:24; cf. 1 Peter 5:5

[19] Alexander, William: The Expositor’s Bible, op. cit., First Epistle of John, p. 130

[20] John 13:34

[21] Lias, J. J., The First Epistle of John with Exposition, p. 77

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By Dr. Robert R. Seyda


CHAPTER TWO (Lesson XXVI) 04/28/21

2:6 If we say we live in God, we must live the way Jesus lived.

Stanley L. Derickson (1940) mentions that we know enough of the maturing of children to see that they often choose a model to pattern themselves after. Even in adulthood, we often shape ourselves after our heroes. God knowing His creatures, desired to give them a model that was worth emulating. Many of our models are flawed, yet we follow their example. God wants us to adopt the lifestyle of the Anointed One, the man who lived the perfect existence. As a matter of fact, we can observe this concept in a well-known text that we wouldn’t typically tie with this saying: “Be holy for I am holy.”[1] If we follow the Apostle Peter’s caution, we will naturally pattern ourselves after the Lord. As we take the Anointed One as our model, we are not only making the man Jesus our example, but we are copying the God of the universe.[2] [3]

Michael Eaton (1942-2017) finds three aspects of “abiding” in this verse.

            (i) God’s anointing given at our first conversion “continues” or “remains with us – it                          “abides” in us.

            (ii) We must let the Word of the Gospel continue to work in our own lives – it “remains”                               in us by our continuing co-operation.

            (iii) In this way, we remain in fellowship with the Father and the Son.[4]

In other words, God started the relationship by sending His Spirit to dwell in us, then He sent His Word to guide and motivate us, and then He opened the door of fellowship with Him and His Son. None of this happened as a result of our efforts. Just like He put the earth in orbit around the sun, He keeps it turning to give us day and night, and it will not end or slow down until He says so.[5]

Pope Paul VI (1897-1978) issued a thought-provoking decree that reads: “The mission of the Church pertains to the salvation of mankind, which is to be achieved by belief in the Anointed One and by His grace. The apostolate of the Church and all its members is primarily designed to manifest the Anointed One’s message by words and deeds and communicate His grace to the world. This is done mainly through the ministry of the Word and the sacraments, entrusted in a special way to the clergy, wherein the laity also has their very important roles to fulfill if they are to be “fellow workers for the truth.”[6] It is especially on this level that the apostolate of the laity and the pastoral ministry are mutually complementary.[7] It clearly points to what the Apostle John is saying here about true fellowship with the Anointed One.

Douglas S. O’Donnell (1972) states that a Spirit-filled life or a Coram Deo (“before God”) lifestyle is one of union with and imitation of the Anointed One that is uniquely characterized by faithfulness to the Anointed One’s commandments.[8] I would add that we should do more than imitating the Anointed One to be like Him; we should be stimulating ourselves to act like Him.

Tom Thatcher (1973) tells us that in the previous chapter, the Apostle John established the fundamental belief difference between believers and the world; he turns to tests that will distinguish the behavior of believers from outsiders. While the first set of analyses focused on nonbelievers, John now highlights the life of the Christian. Consistent with the emphasis on tradition in chapter one, believers are distinct because they “obey His commands” (verse three); that is, they live by the teachings of the historical Jesus.[9]

David Guzik (1984) provides a list to consult to determine if any change in our relationship with God and sin. Here are the questions he wants us to ask ourselves:

  • As a Christian, do we no longer love sin as we once did?
  • As a Christian, do we no longer brag about our sin as we once did?
  • As a Christian, do we no longer plan to sin as we once did?
  • As a Christian, do we no longer fondly remember our sins as we once did?
  • As a Christian, we should never fully enjoy our sin as we once did.
  • As a Christian, we should no longer feel comfortable in habitual sinning as we once did.

All this adds up to, says Guzik, is that we no longer love sin more than God. We may deject some sin in our hearts, even if we cannot wholly reject it. Also, sin may still have a small place in our hearts, but it cannot be allowed to sit on the throne.[10]

Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1988-1981) thinks we should all remember that the Christian’s existence is a “life;” it is not a matter of intellectual assent to doctrine, and, therefore, they have to deal with the whole thing efficiently. Specific causes will interrupt their fellowship with God, and they must be conscientious about them. That’s why John deals with these matters. One of those is, “Are you sure you know God? (verse 3). Another is, are you disobeying God’s commandments and not living in the truth, but rather, you are living a lie? (verse 4). A third one is: are you obeying God’s Word as a sign of your love for Him? (verse 5). And finally, are you living in union with God as Jesus did? (verse 6).

Lloyd-Jones goes on to say that the Apostle John does not say, “If you live that life, you are making yourself a Christian,” but rather, “If you are a Christian, this is how you are to live your life.” If you have the life John talks about, it is bound to show itself, and if it does not, you have not acquired that life. That is logical; it is inevitable. These are not matters to be argued about; we just face the facts. You cannot be receiving the life of the Anointed One without being in union with Him, so you can become more and more like Him. You cannot claim to walk in partnership with God without keeping His commandments. Likewise, you cannot know God without immediately loving Him. Love always manifests itself by doing what the object of your desires wants to do. Loving and doing, says Lloyd-Jones, is the necessary test we all will face and must pass to be called a genuine Christian.[11]

2:7a Dear friends, I am not writing a new commandment for you; instead, it is an old commandment you’ve known about from the very beginning.


Here it appears that John took a deep breath before he began his next phase in instructing them on how they should not only conduct themselves in the world but before the eyes of the world. The Apostle Paul had such an experience. He went to Athens to preach the Gospel to both Jews and Greeks. Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers argued with him. Some of them said, “This man doesn’t know what he is saying. What is he trying to communicate?” Paul was telling them the Good News about Jesus and the resurrection. So, they said, “He seems to be telling us about some other gods.” They took Paul to a meeting of the Areopagus council. They said, “Please explain to us this new idea that you have been teaching.”[12]

In other words, we must not only be ready to live a holy life and adhere to the beliefs explained in the Gospel but be able and willing to explain it to them when asked. And so, like the Apostle John, we must learn that there are no new revelations. He has revealed all secrets needed for our salvation. That’s why John says here that what he is about to share is not new but something they heard at the very beginning of their walk with the Anointed One. It is the same tactic John used in his second letter.[13] And in this case, it was one of the Anointed One’s favorite topics repeated from Torah, love your fellow man as much as you love yourself.[14] And, as Jesus taught, it all begins with loving God more than we love ourselves.[15]

The Apostle Paul proved to be a great defender of this same principle. He made it an essential part of his letters to the Romans[16] and Galatians.[17] Even the Apostle James felt compelled to tell his readers that one law rules over all commandments. It is known as the “Royal Law” and says: “Love your neighbor the same as you love yourself.” If you obey this Royal Law, you are living right. But if you are treating one person as more important than another, you are sinning. You are guilty of violating God’s law. Anyone who is aware of all God’s laws but fails to obey even one is guilty of breaking them all.[18]

[1] 1 Peter 1:16

[2] Ibid. 2:21

[3] Derickson, Stanley L. Notes on Theology, The Incarnation, p. 347

[4] Cf. 1 John 3:6, 9, 14, 17, 24; 4:12, 13, 16; 2 John 1:2, 9

[5] Eaton, Michael, 1, 2, 3 John, op. cit., p. 54

[6] 3 John 1:8

[7] Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity “Apostolicam Actuositatem” Solemnly Promulgated by his holiness Pope Paul VI, November 18, 1965, Chapter II, Objectives, (5)

[8] O’Donnell, Douglas Sean: 1–3 John, op. cit., (Kindle Locations 874-875)

[9] Thatcher, Tom: 1, 2, and 3 John, Jude, op. cit., (Kindle Locations 5516-5519)

[10] Guzik, David: Enduring Word, op. cit., loc. cit.

[11] Lloyd-Jones, Martyn, Life in Christ, op. cit., pp. 182, 190

[12] Acts of the Apostles 17:18-19

[13] 2 John 1:5

[14] Leviticus 19:18

[15] See Deuteronomy 6:5

[16] Romans 13:8-10

[17] Galatians 5:13

[18] James 2:8-11

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By Dr. Robert R. Seyda


CHAPTER TWO (Lesson XXV) 04/27/21

2:6 If we say we live in God, we must live the way Jesus lived.

Robert Law (1860-1919) points out that verses three through six contain a threefold statement of the matter to be tested and the test appropriate to it and both on an ascending scale.

2:3-4 We know God, so,that we keep His Commandments
2:5a The Love of God is so perfected in usthat we keep His Word
2:5b We so abide in Himthat we walk even as He walked.[1]

Arno C. Gäbelein (1861-1945) sees the Apostle John now giving the characteristics of the true believer’s life, the eternal life, and applies specific tests. The profession of a Christian is that they know God. But how do we know that we know Him? The answer is, “If we keep His commandments.” It is not legality that puts the believer back under the law. Obedience is an outstanding attribute of those who’ve received everlasting life. They are determined to do God’s will. The Anointed One walked on earth in obedience. His daily nutrition was to do the will of Him that sent Him.[2]

Since His life is in us as believers, says GäbeleIn, it must manifest itself in obedience to the will of God. We find the same in sanctification, set apart, to the obedience of Jesus the Anointed One.[3] Ours is not sinless obedience as it was with Him; while the believer has their heart set on obeying the Lord and doing His will, they often fail and stumble, but they continue to aim at doing God’s will, for that is the nature of the reborn spirit. We see this in John’s words, “The one that says, ‘I know Him’ yet does not keep His commandments, is a liar and the truth is not in them. But whoever keeps His Word, God’s love is perfected in them. As a result, it assures that they are in union with Him.”[4]

William Barclay (1907-1978) tells us that years after the Gospels and writings of the Apostles became known, pagan Greek playwrights began to produce stage productions that sought to portray God having an emotional experience. The characteristic religious phenomenon of those days was the “Mystery Religions.” In any view of the history of any religion, they are an astonishing feature. Their aim was union with the divine, and they were all in the form of passion plays. They offered mythical gods who lived and suffered, died a cruel death, and rose again. The beginner received a long course of instruction and was urged to practice strict discipline. They pushed the trainee to an intense pitch of expectation and emotional awareness. They were then allowed to come to a passion play in which the story played out on stage was of the suffering, dying, and risen god.

They designed everything to heighten the emotional atmosphere. There was crafty lighting, sensuous music; perfumed incense; and a captivating liturgy. In this atmosphere, the worshiper identified themselves with the experiences of the god until they could cry out: “I am you, and you are I,” as they shared the god’s suffering and also shared its victory and immortality.[5]

Paul W. Hoon (1910-2000) makes a good point by noting that we should not urge people to live a Christian life by obeying all kinds of laws. Instead, all motivation comes by offering the opportunity of living by imitating Jesus’ example and fellowship with His presence. And the more they faithfully walk as He walked, the more they find His Spirit continuously helping to get rid of their sinful desires and bringing their spirit into a genuine union of the knowledge of God’s love and fellowship.[6]

Donald W. Burdick (1917-1996) finds in verses two through six a repetition of the examination found in 1:5-7, using different terms and figures of speech. John also introduces the additional idea of love for fellow believers. Burdick believes that John is comparing knowing with fellowship. But they are inseparable. How can a person say they love God but dislike their believing brothers and sisters? Also, how can anyone hope to enjoy fellow Christians if they do not love God? So, instead of being in contrast, knowing and fellowship is parallel concepts; they go side by side with each other.[7]

John Phillips (1927-2010) reacts to what John says here in verse six about living as Jesus lived. He recalls how Dutch WWII concentration camp survivor Corrie ten Boom went to Germany to tell the German people about God’s love. She spoke at a church in Munich. Suddenly, she saw a man in the audience that she recognized right away as one of the most brutal guards at the Ravensbrück concentration camp.

At the end of the service, he came up to her, told her he had become a Christian, and asked God’s forgiveness for all the evil things he did at the camp. Corrie found it hard to believe that God would so easily forgive such a devil as this man. He reached out his hand to shake hers, and she stood frozen! The face of her emaciated sister flashed in her mind. It seemed as though the man had been holding out his hand for a long, long time before she reacted.

It was then that the indwelling presence of the Anointed One prompted her to respond. She reached out and took the man’s hand. Warmth, supernatural and sublime, flooded her heart. Tears came to her eyes as she said, “I forgive you, my brother – with all my heart.”[8] If God could forgive him, then she could not deny him the same forgiveness. Even as those who beat our Lord pressed the crown of thorns on His head, mocked Him as He hung on the cross, He looked up and said, “Father forgive them; they do not know what they are doing.”[9]

Raymond E. Brown (1928-1998) makes the point that the Apostle John includes a hidden message in verse five about the love of God made complete in the believer. That message is: “God’s love in them has reached perfection.” To understand this, John clarifies it later: “Perfect love puts fear out of our hearts.”[10] Those who love God are not afraid to live in union with Him. And by living in fellowship with Him, they live as Jesus did. That is, they are not afraid to love God and love each other to be more and more like Jesus. In God’s eyes, that is the only way to complete His love for us.[11]

Warren Wiersbe (1929-2019) mentions how the Final Covenant calls the Christian life a “walk.” This walk begins with a step of faith when we trust the Anointed One as our Savior. But salvation is not the end – it’s only the beginning – of spiritual living. “Walking” involves progress, and Christians are supposed to advance in their spiritual life. Just as a child must learn to walk and must overcome many difficulties in doing so, a Christian must learn to “walk in the Light.” And the fundamental challenge involved here is this matter of “sinful tendencies.”[12]

Ian Howard Marshall (1934-2015) points out that much of the criticism of teaching about perfect love arises from the danger of its proponents claiming perfect love for themselves and fall into the sin of pride. But anyone who proudly claims to have complete love shows by their very claim that they have misunderstood the nature of Christian love. It will become apparent later in the Epistle that by “love,” John means the kind of love which God showed in giving His Son to be the Savior of the world.

It is the sort of love, says Marshall, which does not look for personal reward but the benefit of the person loved. Much (but not all) human love is of the “getting” variety, where the lover is seeking their pleasure. “I love ice cream” is a relatively simple example of this attitude, although such love for anything may stand in the way of fulfilling our obligations. God’s love is of the “giving” sort, where the lover is seeking the benefit of the beloved and finding joy in giving happiness to others. Human pride is incompatible with this agape-love since it means that the lover is seeking selfish pleasure by their actions.[13]

John Painter (1935) tells us that in Johannine writings, over half the uses of the Greek verb menō (“abide,” “abiding”)[14] are tied to God’s Word, illustrated as [seedsperma], and [anointingcharisma], that abides with the believer and the in the Light, in God, and the truth.[15] The believer abides in God and God in the believer.[16] The concentration of this theme in First John is unmistakable. Not only is the verb used twenty-three times in five short chapters, but in almost all cases, it speaks of abiding in God and His love, or God and His love in them.[17]

[1] Law, Robert: The Tests of Life: A Study of the First Epistle of St. John, op. cit., p. 210

[2] John 4:34

[3] 1 Peter 1:2

[4] Gäbelien, Arno C. The Annotated Bible, op. cit., loc. cit.

[5] Barclay, William: The Letters of John and Jude, Revised Edition, Daily Study Bible, op. cit. p. 47

[6] Hoon, Paul W., The Interpreter’s Bible, op. cit., Vol. XII, p. 232

[7] Burdick, Donald W. The Epistles of John, op. cit., p. 28

[8] Ten Boom, Corrie, Tramp for the Lord, Published by CLC Publications, Fort Washington, PA, 1974, pp. 55-57

[9] Luke 23:34

[10] 1 John 4:18

[11] Brown, Raymond E., The Epistles of John, op. cit., p. 257

[12] Wiersbe, Warren W., Be Real (1 John), op. cit., pp. 35-36

[13] Marshall, I. Howard. The Epistles of John, op. cit., p. 126

[14] In the KJV menō is translated 61 times as “abide;” 16 times as “remain;” 15 times as “dwell;” 11 times as “continue;” 9 times as “tarry;” 3 times as “endure,” and 5 times miscellaneous terms. 

[15] See 1 John 2:6, 10, 14, 17, 24, 27-28; 3:6, 9, 14-15, 24; 4:12-13, 15-16; 2 John 1:2, 6

[16] 1 John 3:16

[17] Painter, John. Sacra Pagina, Vol. 18, op. cit., (Kindle Locations 2543-2547)

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By Dr. Robert R. Seyda


CHAPTER TWO (Lesson XXIV) 04/26/21

2:6 If we say we live in God, we must live the way Jesus lived.

Samuel E. Pierce (1746-1829) is disturbed that anyone would feel it is inconceivable that anyone should feel apprehensive about God’s everlasting Gospel not being complete with all-sufficient holiness to maintain and establish a lifestyle of holy living. It fully and effectually operates on the renewed mind to produce its most blessed and glorious effects. Through the Gospel, we believe in the Father’s everlasting love, the salvation of the Son of God, and the distinctive personality of the Holy Spirit. It is He who sanctifies the recipients of God’s grace, getting them ready for eternal glory. It takes place when He has intimate and blessed communion with the believer. Not only that, but it allows them to proclaim their allegiance to Him openly through their mutual acts of grace.[1]

Thomas Scott (1749-1821) shares his opinion that while we seek for grace to benefit from the intercession and atonement of our heavenly Advocate and encourage our fellow Christians, we should remember that “He is the Reconciler, not only for our sins” but those of the whole world. Therefore, any sinner anywhere willing to accept salvation will become partakers of God’s grace and forgiveness. Also, we should desire and endeavor by all means of divine power to be instruments in bringing others to share with us in spreading the Gospel to all nations.[2]

Joseph Benson (1749-1821) points out that the Nicolaitans (“worldly-Christians”) and Gnostics (“know-it-alls”) boasted that they were the objects of God’s love and sure of obtaining eternal life despite the fact they lived habitually partaking of the most criminal sensual indulgences. They claimed this merely because they possessed the knowledge of the true God and of His mercy in forgiving people’s sins. In this boasting, the Apostle John declared them liars, either because they said what they knew to be false, or at least what was in itself most false. But whoever keeps God’s word – sincerely endeavors to live in obedience to all His commands; in Him verily is the love of God – reconciled and perfected in us through the Anointed One.[3]

William Kelly (1821-1906) aims at Christians’ living and its shortcomings. He confesses that we all know as a matter of fact how easy it is to slip back, how readily we forget the Lord for a little while, how inclined we are to allow the activity of our fallen human nature to take control. That is not fully abiding in Him. But the Apostle John does not give up offering modifications. He looks at principles and fundamentals as absolute. Anyone who refuses to look at the whole truth gives up faith for feeling. How can such people understand the validity of the Anointed One? They must be fully committed to His work. Grace must be unconditional for it to profit a ruined sinner.

If God justifies me, says Kelly, it is not questionable. If God justifies the ungodly, it is as absolute as His giving eternal life in the Anointed One. And the believer has eternal life in order to obey as well as to enjoy fellowship with the Father and His Son. God depends on this to impact the conscience, for there is no higher claim than that being in union with the Anointed One. It is not the satisfaction of knowing that we are in communion with Him but that He makes His a home for every joy and sorrow, every danger and difficulty. For this is to abide in Him. If it is that way with us, we ought to live as He lived. But is it so in deed and truth? We see the failure of genuinely abiding in Him reveals itself in the shortcomings of our Christian walk. But as Christians, we own the Anointed One as our standard, although it may humble us. Nor do we pretend that we walk in the measure of the Anointed One’s walk but by grace seek to walk after His manner.[4]

William Alexander (1824-1911) points to the Apostle John’s hatred of people not being honest with each other, lying in every form, which leads them to claim as Christians to have a perfect union between their outward profession and the inward possession. When a person brags, it is a danger signal to those who are Christians outwardly. It is the “take notice” of a hidden falseness. They who claim, possibly whose boast, they abide in the Anointed One have contracted a moral debt of far-reaching significance.

John seems to pause for a moment says Alexander. He points to a picture in a page of the scroll beside him the image of the Anointed One in the Gospel drawn by himself; not a vague magnificence, a mere harmony of color, but a likeness of absolute historical truth. In their daily walk, pilgrims who possess the Gospel have vowed to walk as the Pilgrim of Eternity walked. The very depth and intensity of feeling soften the Apostle’s voice. Instead of the beloved Hebrew name, John uses a reverential Greek pronoun autos (“He” in KJV), which belongs to the Anointed One in the vocabulary of the Epistle.[5] Some English translations leave no doubt by rendering it “the Anointed One” – Christ, taking away any doubt John was referring to as our example.

Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892) preached a sermon using verse six as his text. In that sermon, he says that these words of the Apostle John are exactly what every Christian should say. No one can be a Christian unless this is true of them and cannot fully enjoy their faith unless they know for sure that they are in the Anointed One and can boldly testify so. We must be in the Anointed One and abidingly in Him, or else we are not saved. Our union with the Anointed One makes us Christians: by being in partnership with Him as our life, we are spiritually alive – living by God’s favor. We are in the Anointed One, as the manslayer was in the city of refuge.[6] I hope that we can say we abide in Him as our sanctuary and shelter, says Spurgeon. We fled to find refuge in Him, who is the hope set before us in the Gospel, even as David and his men sheltered themselves in the caves of Engedi,[7] so we hide in the Anointed One.

Spurgeon concludes by telling his audience that a person wrote to him after the sermon to say that he painted their portrait but cannot finish it until he sees them. Certainly, you cannot paint a portrait of the Anointed One in your life unless you see Him – see Him clearly, see Him continually. You may have a general notion of what the Anointed One looks like, and you may put a good deal of color into your copy, but I am sure you will fail unless you spiritually see the original. To achieve that, you must get to commune with Jesus.[8]

John James Lias (1834-1923) notes that the Apostle John’s language changes. He speaks no longer of just knowing God or having some fellowship with Him. He digs deep into the central truth of the Christian faith. That is, the Christian who is in union with their Lord and Savior are, “Those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love Him. That is how we know we are living in Him.”[9] Another way to illustrate this is having a friend who is always talking about being happily married and speaks fondly of their beautiful spouse. However, you find out they do not live together, nor have they ever met each other; it was all done over the internet. Surely, you would question the validity of their claim. The same is true of those who profess they are part of the bride of the Lord Jesus but have never met Him and are not living in union with Him.

George Findlay (1849-1919) notes that the Apostle John admits to the possibility of a lapse from grace by one or another of His “little children.” He shows that for this unfortunate individual, relief is made possible by the advocacy of the Anointed One. But this is a provision of which the stubborn human heart may take needless advantage. Upon hearing what John just wrote, a tempted Christian might say to themselves: “There is hope for the backslider! I’m not lost if I backslide! God is a merciful Father; the Anointed One died to pay the ransom for all sinners. Thus, He is my Intercessor. When I find myself in temptations’ storm and pushed to do wrong if I yield, He will stretch out His hand to save me. My ship may go down, but I will not drown”.

How natural and how dangerous such a situation would be. It is similar to what the Apostle Paul spoke about regarding disagreements among the Gentle converts concerning grace.[10] God delights in forgiveness, they said, and since Jesus, the Anointed One, offered to meet God’s demands for our sin, a little more to forgive will not make a big difference to Him! The risk of attaching to the Gospel unconditional pardon for sinners – a liability especially among half-trained converts from heathenism. In some instances, these uncommitted followers fostered disharmony and discord among the congregants. They lied due to a lack of discipline and relapse into sin after baptism. The possibility of such abuse of his message of sin-cleansing through the blood of Jesus was doubtless present to John’s mind.[11]

James Morgan (1859-1942) teaches that there is great dignity in using the term “knowledge.” It is the result of observation and experience. It implies certainty. If we say we know a person, it supposes we have a personal relationship with them. It also suggests that we know from experience who they are, not who they say they are. If we are familiar with a country, we must have been there, and have seen it, and become acquainted with its citizens, land, and products. If we recommend a medication, we must have used it or analyzed it and become accustomed to any of its healing properties or side effects. We know that bread is wholesome because we’ve eaten it. We know that honey is sweet because we’ve tasted it. This is precisely the force of the term when we speak of the “knowledge” of the Anointed One. [12]

[1] Pierce, S. E., An Exposition of the First Epistle General of John, op. cit., Vol. 1, p. 134

[2] Thomas Scott: First Epistle of John, op. cit., p. 485

[3] Joseph Benson: First Epistle of John. op. cit., loc. cit.

[4] Kelly, W., An Exposition of the Epistles of John the Apostle, op. cit., pp. 88–89

[5] Alexander, William: The Expositor’s Bible, Epistles of John, op. cit., p. 118

[6] See Exodus 21:13; Numbers 35:28; Joshua 20:1-6

[7] 1 Samuel 24:1

[8] Spurgeon, Charles: The Spurgeon Sermon Collection, Vol. 3, Sermon, #1732, “In Him: Like Him,” pp. 404-419

[9] Lias, J. J., The First Epistle of John with Exposition, op. cit., p. 71

[10] Romans 6:11

[11] Findlay, G. G., Fellowship in the Life Eternal: An Exposition of the Epistles of St. John, op. cit., pp. 135–136.

[12] Morgan, James: An Exposition of the First Epistle of John, op. cit., pp. 73–74

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By Dr. Robert R. Seyda


CHAPTER TWO (Lesson XXIII) 04/23/21

2:6a Those who say they live in union with God must conduct their life the way Jesus did.


This verse is not out of line with anything Jesus taught His disciples.[1] After all, the Psalmist did say that just as right and good went before our Lord. It made a clear path for His footsteps.[2] In the same manner, proper and sound do the same for all believers. Jesus even said so.[3] And the Apostle Paul believes that we can be an excellent example for others. As he told the Ephesians, live a life filled with love, follow the example of the Anointed One. He loved us and offered Himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.[4] That’s why the Apostle Peter wrote his constituents that it’s all part of Christian living. That’s why the Anointed One suffered for us. That made Him our example, and we must become examples by following in His footsteps.[5]

It is uncertain whether the Apostle John had as much insight into the writings of the Greek philosophers as did the Apostle Paul.[6] But many of their sayings made their way into conversations and teachings of those days, even among the Jews. For instance, Aristotle wrote that no function of humanity has as much permanence as virtuous activities (many consider these to be more durable than knowledge of the sciences).[7] They are more valuable or sustainable because those who have joy in the Lord spend their lives continuously in such virtuous accomplishments. For this very reason, we must never forget them.


Richard Rothe (1799-1867) brings up an essential truth regarding a person who claims they are in fellowship with the Lord by keeping His commandments. They must remember that Jesus did not make these suggestions or ideas. It is their obligation, their moral and spiritual duty. As Greek Philosopher Aristotle put it: “They must and are bound to do so.” From the fact that the Anointed One is in the Christian and the Christian is in the Anointed One, they walk together. So, remarks Rothe there follows that the fellowship of both means they act and walk the same way by a natural necessity.[8] Look at it this way; the police pull a person over for erratic driving because they drove on the wrong side of the road, went through red lights, breezed past stop signs, ignored the speed limit, never used their turn signals, etc., only to have them claim “they were following the law.”

As Alfred Plummer (1841-1926) sees things, the Greek philosopher Aristotle, mentioned by Rothe, said that “In morals knowledge without practice is worthless: not speculation, but conduct.” It is the aim of both the Christian and this heathen philosopher. It sets a very high standard of virtue. Furthermore, it clearly states that only those who are virtuous can perform such noble acts. First, they do so knowingly, not accidentally; secondly, they do them deliberately because the worthy deed is good in itself, not because it makes them look good; and thirdly, to do these virtuous acts with a firm and unwavering purpose. In the Christian’s case, they do these deeds not to get honor and applause from their fellow humans but to give praise and glory to the Anointed One who saved them.[9]

John Flavel asks a serious question: “Does the Anointed One exercise such a kingly power over the souls of all subdued by the Gospel?” O then let all that are under the Anointed One’s government walk as the subjects of such a King, says Flavel. Imitate your King; the examples of kings are very influential upon their citizens. Your King has commanded you not only to take His yoke upon you but also to learn of Him.[10] And John says here in verse six, the ones who say they belong to the Anointed One should live the same kind of life Jesus lived. Also, the prophet said, men made it very hard for Him and caused Him to suffer, yet He did not open His mouth. They led Him like a lamb scheduled for slaughter.[11] Furthermore, “Tell the people of Jerusalem, ‘Look, your King is coming to you. He is humble, riding on a donkey[12] – riding on a donkey’s colt.”[13]

Does this become the kingdom of the Anointed One, asks Flavel? Your King was self-denying; He could refuse any outward comforts, ease, honor, life, to serve His Father’s will, and accomplish your salvation.[14] Therefore, should His servants be self-centered and self-seeking persons that will expose His honor and hazard their souls for the trash of current times? God forbid! Your king was painful, challenged, and diligent in fulfilling His work.[15] O Lord, don’t let us become lazy and lethargic. Let us follow the pattern of our King: this will give us comfort now and boldness on Judgment Day.[16] If our king could deny Himself of all the blessings, He rightly deserved to purchase our salvation, do we have any excuses for not doing the same?[17]

John Bunyan points out that all were able to forsake immoral living by calling on the name of the Anointed One, as the Apostle Paul told Timothy.[18] Those that Paul encourages to are bold enough to say, as the Apostle of John does here, that they are in Him, abide in Him, and consequently are made partakers of the benefits in Him. And the reason is that the Anointed One is a fruitful root and freely dispenses the sap of grace into the branches.[19]  So then, those who claim in the name of the Anointed One God’s benefits must be counted as being in union with the Anointed One and He in them. They prove this by living as He lived. If they are branches of the True Vine, it identifies them as belonging to Him by their fruit.[20] [21]

In one of Spurgeon’s devotions, he bases his thoughts on what John says in verse six. He starts with a question: “Why should Christians imitate the Anointed One?” They should do it not only for His sake but for their sake as well. If they desire to have a spiritually healthy soul – if they would escape the sickness of sin and enjoy the vigor of growing grace – let Jesus be their model. If they would drink the communion cup until it is empty; if they would enjoy holy and happy communion with Jesus; if they would rise above the cares and troubles of this world, let them walk even as He walked. There is nothing that can assist your walk towards heaven with good speed more than wearing the image of Jesus on your heart to rule all its motions. It is when the power of the Holy Spirit enables you to walk with Jesus in His very footsteps that you are most happy and most known to be the sons of God. Peter, standing afar off, [22] is both unsafe and uneasy.

Next, says Spurgeon, striving to be like Jesus for religion’s sake. What a pity, O Christian faith! Cruel enemies have targeted you. But they were not half as dangerous as some considered your friends. Who are these so-called companions who made new wounds in the hands of the Anointed One? Individual liberal professors who used the dagger of hypocrisy. The wolf who entered inside the fold dressed in sheep’s clothing.[23] They are more feared than the roaring lion outside.[24] No weapon is half as deadly as the Judas-kiss.[25] Smug teachers who are unsure of their faith injure the Gospel more than the sneering infidel.

But, continues Spurgeon, what about striving to be like Jesus for His sake, matching His example? Brother and Sister Christian, do you love you’re Savior? Is His name precious to you? Is His cause dear to you? Would you like to see the kingdoms of the world become His? Is it your desire to glorify Him? Do you long to win souls for Him? If so, imitate Jesus; be an “epistle of  the Anointed One, known and read by everyone.”[26]

George Swinnock (1627-1673) says that one purpose for the Anointed One’s incarnation and life in the flesh was to set an exact pattern for our lives in the Spirit. “The Anointed One suffered for us. It shows us we are to follow in His steps.”[27] All the actions of the Anointed One are instructions to a Christian. His works were either ethical or interceding or both, in the Christian who imitates Him. His noble deeds involved exercising the same grace in carrying out His mission for our sake. He resisted the same temptations, dealt with similar corruption, died to sin, raised to spiritual life in the natural. None can parallel the life of the Anointed One, says Swinnock, but every new creature imitates the Anointed One in their life. The same mindset exists in all the saints regenerated in the Anointed One. Thus, they have the same will, the same affections; they love what He loved; they detest what He detested; what pleases Him, pleases them; what grieved His spirit, grieves their soul. Just as the children of the devil act like their father, as unholy as he is profane, so the children of God are like their everlasting Father, holy because He is holy. They do not do this on their own but by the Anointed One living in them.[28]

[1] See John 15:4-5

[2] Psalm 85:13

[3] John 13:15

[4] Ephesians 5:2

[5] 1 Peter 2:21

[6] See Acts of the Apostles 17:28

[7] Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, Bk. I, 10

[8] Rothe, Richard: The Expository Times, op. cit., November 1890, p. 45

[9] Alfred Plummer: The Preacher’s Complete Homiletical Commentary, op. cit., p. 259

[10] Matthew 11:29

[11] Isaiah 53:7

[12] Ibid 62:11

[13] Zechariah 9:9

[14] 2 Corinthians 8:9; Philippians 2:1-8

[15] See John 9:3

[16] 1 John 4:17

[17] John Flavel:  The Fountain of Life, op. cit., Sermon 16, p. 198

[18] 2 Timothy 2:9

[19] Cf. Psalm 104:16

[20] Matthew 7:16

[21] John Bunyan: Practical Works, Vol 4, Ch. 1, p. 80-81

[22] Matthew 26:58; Mark 12:54

[23] Matthew 7:15

[24] 1 Peter 5:8

[25] Matthew 26:48-49; Mark 14:43-45; John 18:3

[26] Charles Spurgeon: Devotions, op. cit., p. 277

[27] 1 Peter 2:21

[28] The Works of George Swinnock: Nichol’s Series of Standard Divines, Puritan Period, published by James Nisbet and Company, Dublin, 1868, Vol. III, Ch. II, p. 232

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By Dr. Robert R. Seyda


CHAPTER TWO (Lesson XXII) 04/22/21

2:5 But when we obey God’s teaching, His love is truly working in us. This is how we know that we are living in Him.

Dryander says the Apostle John, in the lofty flight of his thoughts, reveals to us a new world in the knowledge of the Gospel, which is the means of opening our eyes to a holier, more profound conception of God. At the same time, this mystic Apostle sought to measure the depths of eternity with his profound speculative genius. It is so intensely practical that when he wishes to show the way to attaining knowledge of God, he says, in simple words, “that you do not sin.” Doing this brings a greater understanding of God, which must be the ultimate aim of all Christians.[1]

Alan E. Brooke (1863-1939) tells us that the love of God can be interpreted in three ways: subjective, objective, or qualitative. God’s love for us, or our love for God, or the love which is characteristic of Him, which “answers to His nature” and when “communicated to humanity is effective in them towards the brethren and God.” The love for God of which humanity is capable is only achievable through absolute obedience. At the same time, we must remember the Apostle John’s teaching about God’s love for people is what motivates a person’s response to love God. “We love because He first loved us.”[2] [3]

Henry Sawtelle (1868-1934) comments on how the love of God comes full circle. He explains that the Greek adverb alēthōs (“verily”) means not only in reality but also, in accordance with the principle of truth in the reborn creation, harmonizing naturally somewhat with the similar Greek noun alētheia (“truth”) in verse four. “In him” is literally “in this one” – namely the one who follows the Anointed One’s teachings. Sawtelle tells us that German theologian Johann Bengel says that the love of God is not God’s love for us, and German theologian August Neander states that neither is it our love for Him. Added to that, German theologian Johannes H. A. Ebrard says it is not a term for the reciprocal love between God and us, nor the respect commanded by God. It is the principle of spiritual love in us, which is of God as its source and its nature, which is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit given to us.[4] In short, it is God’s love in us, the divine element imparted to us, the main component of the fountain found in us.

It is not the same thing as the knowledge in verse three, says Sawtelle, even though the spiritual understanding of the Anointed One and this love of God imply each other and do not exist apart from the regenerate believer. This love is perfected in us as we keep the Word of the Anointed One. It develops, matures, finalizes in its end and fullness through obedience. Evangelical obedience is the carrying out and completion of love itself. The vital doctrine taught here is that keeping positive commands is necessary for the wholesome inner life. Trees do not fully develop until they bear fruit; neither does our Christian life. Assuredly, the relationship of faith and baptism in the Gospel of Mark[5] is the same as love and obedience here in First John?[6]

Marvin Vincent (1834-1922) has an enlightening explanation of how God’s love becomes fully developed in the believer. He points out that the Greek verb teleioō in the perfect tense has the Apostle John saying the “the love of God reaches perfection.” The change in the structure of this clause here in verse five is a striking contrast to what John says in verse four. Those who claim to know God, yet live in disobedience, are liars. The counterbalance might be: “Those keeping His commandments are of the truth” or “the truth is in them.” Instead, we have, “In them, God’s love has reached its highest level.” Vincent then explains that the obedient child of God is identified, not by any characteristic trait or quality of their personality, but as the subject of the work of divine love. It is in this context that love accomplishes its complete task.[7]

Earlier, Donald W. Burdick (1917-1996) contrasted knowing with fellowship; now, he does the same with God’s commandments and telling the truth. It involves making a claim that turns out to be a lie. The profession of faith is not enough; facts must back it up. John makes it clear that anyone who attempts such pretense is not only deceiving others but themselves. John tried to be friendly about it, but he ended up calling them what they were – liars![8]

Wendell C. Hawley (1930) addresses the factor of how God’s love reaches completion in believers. Some scholars say that perfection is said to be when God’s love reaches people, or it replaces human love with divine love, or it is a person loving God with all their heart, soul, and mind. All of these are acceptable, says Hawley, but the main point is when God’s love reaches its goal, both in the believer’s maturity and in becoming a light to the world. In the Greek mind, perfection did not mean flawlessness, but rather, more fully developed, matured. The Greek verb teleioō (“perfected”) is in a perfect tense, but, says another commentator, having the force of the present tense in that the fulfillment process already begun is continuing.[9] It’s like a baby’s heart; once it starts beating, it will continue to beat until the end of life. Likewise, once God’s love begins beating in our hearts, it will go on beating until the Lord calls us home.

Ian Howard Marshall (1934-2015) notes that commentators dispute whether “the love of God” means (a) “God’s love for mankind” (the undoubted meaning in 4:9), or (b) “mankind’s love for God” (the probable sense in 2:15 and 5:3), or (c) “God’s kind of love.” The fact is that all three interpretations are possible here. It is, of course, true that our love for God is a reflection of God’s love for us and a response to it so that our keeping of God’s Word could be a sign that God’s love had done its complete work in us.

On the other hand, says Marshall, the parallel expressions in 2:15 and 5:3 strongly support the view that John is thinking primarily of our love for God rather than divine love, which produces this response in us. God’s unconditional love for us is indisputable, but the reflection or uncompromising love for Him is often in question. We can say all we want about loving God, but unless we are fellowshipping and loving other believers in keeping His commandments, our love is highly questionable.[10]

Philip W. Comfort (1950) feels that the newness of Jesus’ command to love one another rests upon the reality it changed our hearts by experiencing the love of Jesus, we reach out in the same fashion to all those touched by such love. When we let that love to shine into the darkness of a lost world or illuminate a believer who has stepped momentarily into darkness, they can find their way back to the Light. Then we know we are living the way Jesus lived, and God’s love comes full circle back to Him.[11]

Karen H. Jobes (1968) offers this insight into the text. She says, by taking the words “love of God” to mean, “God is the direct object of love,” it produces a beautiful, logical flow to John’s thought. It helps us understand the Greek verb teleileōtai (“reached its fulfillment”), a word often translated with an English phrase including “perfected[12] or “perfection.”[13] And the shift in 2:7-11 to explicitly address love for others seems to confirm that here an “objective genitive” [14] used here. In other words, God in the Anointed One has loved us by redeeming us from sin, [15] and that love has a transformative goal in the believer’s life, that they should love both the Father and the Son in expressing love to others.[16] [17]

David Jackman (1973) sees John opening the door closed to keep out the darkness to the other side to let in God’s Light of love. He is saying that the more we obey God’s Word, the more we open the door for His love to accomplish His purpose in our lives. And the more love we let in, the more earnest we are in obeying His Word. The test of living in the light is growing in love. The ultimate proof does not come with heightened emotion of exciting worship but our enthusiast devotion to duty, detail, and discipline. You see, it’s not all in what we say about God but in what we do for Him.[18]

You see, a fountain that receives water from a river or spring lets it flow into the basin, down the drain, and out to a water reclamation plant. A fountain with a self-contained water source like a rain recovery tank pumps it into the sink, where it flows back down into the tank through a filter, making it purer each time. When the water source for the river or spring dries up, it stops running. But the water tank is continually refreshed with each rain and contains enough water until the next storm. Thus, the water never stops running. More or less, this is what Jesus said, “Whoever drinks the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give them will become in them a well of life that lasts forever.”[19]

[1] Dryander, E., A Commentary on the First Epistle of St. John in the Form of Addresses, op. cit., pp. 32–33

[2] Cf. 2:15; 3:17; 4:12; v:5

[3] Brooke, Alan E. International Critical Commentary, op. cit., p. 32

[4] Romans 5:5

[5] Mark 16:16

[6] Sawtelle, H. A., Commentary on the Epistles of John, op. cit., p. 17

[7] Vincent, Marvin: Word Studies of the NT, op. cit., p. 327

[8] Burdick, Donald W., The Epistles of John, op. cit., p. 29

[9] Hawley, Wendell C., Tyndale, op. cit., pp. 337-338

[10] Howard, Marshall I., The Epistles of John, op. cit., pp. 124-125 

[11] Comfort, Philip W., Tyndale, op. cit., p.339-340

[12] See New American Standard Bible (NASB), New King James Version (NKJV), English Standard Version (ESV)

[13] See New Revised Standard Version (NRSV), New Jerusalem Bible (NJB)

[14] The Objective Genitive names the Direct Object of the action contained in another noun.

[15] John 3:16; 1 John 4:10

[16] Ibid. 13:34

[17] Jobes, Karen H., 1, 2, and 3, op. cit., p. 86

[18] Jackman, David, The Message of John’s Letters, op. cit., p. 49

[19] John 4:14

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By Dr. Robert R. Seyda


CHAPTER TWO (Lesson XXI) 04/21/21

2:5 But when we obey God’s teaching, His love is truly working in us. This is how we know that we are living in Him.

In fact, the wise young writer of Psalm 119 states that great blessings belong to those who follow God’s rules because they seek Him with all their heart, don’t do wrong, and follow His guidelines. Lord, you gave us your instructions and told us always to obey them.[1] Being in union with God is the only way to accomplish things that please Him and bring joy to others. And King Solomon agrees with Wisdom, who said that “So now, O my children, listen to me, for happy are they who follow my instructions.[2] On the other hand, says Solomon, an intelligent child, conducts themselves with modesty, but a child who spends time with worthless people brings shame to their parents.[3] Solomon then goes on to say that people who do what God has instructed them to do and know the right time and place to do it will end up doing what is correct at the right moment.[4]

And for those who are worried about doing something wrong or harmful, God had a remedy that He gave to the prophet Ezekiel that says, “I will put my Spirit inside you and change you so that you will obey my laws. You will carefully obey my commands.”[5] But even more so, this same principle was announced by Jesus the Anointed One Himself.[6] And it was confirmed to John in his revelation where the angel said that God’s holy people must be patient while keeping His teachings, so they remain faithful to Jesus to the very end.[7]

So, continuing to stay in union with God and His Son was also a point that the Apostle James said that even Abraham was able to see both his faith and actions succeed by working together. It then is what made Abraham’s faith complete. No wonder the Apostle Paul declared to the Romans that those in union with the Anointed One would not be judged guilty. And in his letter to the Corinthians, Paul expounded more on this by telling them it is God who has made you part of the Anointed One, Jesus. And the Anointed One has become for us wisdom from God. He is the reason we are right with God and pure enough to be in His presence.[8] So, we should never forget that the Anointed One is not only God-like but was God in human flesh. So, when you are in union with the Anointed One, you are complete.[9]


Didymus the Blind (313-398 AD) raises a very interesting point. He notes that the person who loves God keeps His commandments and, by so doing, realizes that they know the love of God. Obedience results in His love.[10] You don’t have to be a Christian to be familiar with this principle. As children, we all learned that when we did what our parents told us to do, they showed their love for our obedience. When we did it independently without them having to explain or ask us, it made them even happier. Not only did they smile and compliment us, but they also hugged us. Didymus is telling us the same is true with God. He loves us when we follow His commands, but when we do it without Him having to say anything to us, that brings a smile and a hug.

James Macknight (1721-1800) says that to “be in union with the Anointed One” is to be a member of that fellowship of which the Anointed One is the head, and to enjoy all the blessings peculiar to that fellowship; and in particular, to be the object of the Anointed One’s love.[11] In other words, we are not in union with the Anointed One, just on our own. Now maybe, you are isolated from other brothers and sisters in the Lord, but you are still a member of His body. You have something to give to God, and He can use you as part of His body where you are.

Samuel E. Pierce (1746-1829) says that the Apostle John speaks of the internal and external evidence that proves our being born of God. It’s a matter of remembering His Word: walk in harmony with the Gospel. All this proceeds from inward and spiritual principles. As such, they carry evidence with them proving such and such belongs to the Lord. External behavior that differs from internal beliefs shows if our walk is within or without the Anointed One.[12]

Richard Rothe (1799-1867) feels that John emphasizes keeping the Savior’s commandments as the valid token to establish that a person who says they belong to Him is telling the truth. By obeying His Word, a person shows they are admitting their need for lasting loyalty. Only by being connected to Him can anyone find God’s will for their lives to be what He wants them to be. It takes total surrender to His will. Let’s put it this way; the only way to prove that an electric lamp is connected to the power source is to turn it on. If the bulb is new, the lamp is fully functional; if the bulb does not come on, then, it’s obvious that the cord is not plugged in. It’s the same way with those who claim to be in union with Jesus the Anointed One. They are called to be a light in this world, but they are not connected with the Lord’s spiritual power if that light does not go on.[13]

Robert Candlish (1806-1873) tells us that there were those in John’s day who pretended to know God very profoundly and intimately, in a very subtle and inspirational way. They put tremendous stress on being well-informed about God personally, so much so that they earned the label of the “know-it-alls” or Gnostics. They claim to know all about the essence of God or His mysterious manner of being. Furthermore, they know all His attributes and inward properties and outward presence. They claimed familiarity with all His thoughts choices from His beginning to the point of offering insight into everything God did and said, even giving it a name.”[14] Candlish went on to list what they professed to know about heaven and hell, the galaxies, the stars, the universe, and His role.

English Baptist minister John Stock (1817-1884) tells us that obedience is the proof of saving faith. A fruitless faith is Satanic. The devils believe and tremble. But the saints of God, who are His formation – believe and love. We are His work. He has made us to belong to the Anointed One, Jesus, so that we can work for Him. He planned that we should do this.[15] In love, they follow the Anointed One and keep His word, or commandments, as our Lord expressly says: “If a person loves Me, they will keep My instructions.”[16] Obedience is a choice, as foretold by the prophet, who said: “Your people will join you on your day of battle.” This keeping of God’s word or commandment, observing it practically, and seeking to keep it as written, is not a faultless performance. There is not a mistake-free person on earth who only does good and does not break the law.[17] That blessedness will be found only in heaven when to sin will be an impossibility; for then, resemblance to God will become a reality. So, the blessedness issuing from it. To be holy is to be happy. The Anointed One’s yoke is easy,[18] and His burden is light, and wisdom’s ways, which are His, are ways of pleasantness, and all His paths are peace.[19] [20]

Daniel Steele (1824-1914) admits that we may not be sure of the meaning of this equivocal phrase, “the love of God is perfected,” whether it is His love for us or our love toward Him. But when we attribute perfection to the love of God, it seems to imply that it relates to our love toward God since our desire is capable of imperfection. At the same time, His is always perfect, and it seems to be a truism to assert its perfection and a paradox to say that it is “perfected.” Our love is indeed kindled by His passion as a spark dropped from the skies. God is said to give His love to us when by His Spirit, He announces our adoption. Then love’s response to that of our great Benefactor springs up in our hearts as the first beat of spiritual life. In a sense, it is God’s love throbbing in our bosoms because He originates it. But in an important sense, it is human because it is the activity of our spiritual susceptibilities unfolding according to the laws of mind, as gratitude toward a benefactor.[21]

Ernst Drylander (1843-1922) tells us that the Apostle John, first, bids us take note of how serious is this demand of obedience to the Father. To him, it is the one and infallible sign of our fellowship with God. Nothing can take the place of this one indispensable condition; no confession, however faithful; no “Lord, Lord,” however earnest; no church-going, however regular; no calling, however high. Nothing can take the place of obedience to the Father. Not to sin is, in other words, to obey the commandments of God. Look at it this way, if you drive under the speed limit, turn your blinker on at every turn, stop at every red light or red stop sign, stay on your side of the road, drive with your seatbelt on, do not text while driving, and never drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you need not fear of being ticketed.

[1] Ibid. 119:2-4; See Psalm 146

[2] Proverbs 8:32

[3] Ibid. 28:7

[4] Ecclesiastes 8:5

[5] Ezekiel 36:27

[6] John 14:21, 23

[7] Revelation 14:12

[8] 1 Corinthians 1:30; See 2 Corinthians 5:17, 21

[9] Colossians 2:9

[10] Didymus the Blind, Bray, G. (Ed.), op. cit., 1-3 John, p. 179

[11] Macknight, James: First Epistle of John, op. cit., p. 42

[12] Pierce, S. E., An Exposition of the First Epistle General of John, op. cit., Vol. 1, p. 127

[13] Rothe, Richard: The Expository Times, op. cit., August 1890, p. 260

[14] Candlish, R. S., The First Epistle of John Expounded in a Series of Lectures, op. cit., pp. 79-80

[15] Ephesians 2:10

[16] John 14:23

[17] Psalm 110:3

[18] Matthew 11:30

[19] Proverbs 3:17

[20] Stock, John: An Exposition of the First Epistle General of St. John, op. cit., pp. 81–82

[21] Steele, Daniel: Half-Hours with John, op. cit., p. 34

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