1 John 2 Commentary

Christian love in the present world (2:7-17)

The commandment to love one another is old because it is found in the Old Testament and was quoted by Christ (Lev 19:18; Matt 5:43-44; John 13:34). It is new because it belongs to the new age of ‘light’ that began with Christ, in contrast to the present world’s age of ‘darkness’. The work of Christ has given love a new meaning (7-8). The love shown by Christ is the love that Christians must show to others. If love determines their behaviour, they live in God’s light. They see what they are doing and therefore they do right. If hate determines their behaviour, they live in darkness. They are spiritually blind and therefore they do wrong. If people claim to be Christians but hate others, they only deceive themselves (9-11).

John does not want any to doubt their salvation unnecessarily because of what he just said, so he quickly reminds them of the grounds for their assurance. New believers may not yet have learnt a lot, but at least they know that they have a Father in heaven who forgives them. Elderly believers have the assurance that comes through their many years of knowing God. Believers in the energetic years of their Christian lives grow in confidence and strength as they see the power of God at work in defeating Satan (12-14).

Christians must not allow themselves to become affected by the attitudes and behaviour of the unbelievers around them. The ordinary people of the world belong to the age of darkness and make their decisions according to what they want for themselves, whether concerning possessions, activities, achievements, or status. Christians belong to the new age of light, the eternal kingdom where God’s values rule and his will is done. They must make their judgments according to his standards, not the standards of the present ungodly world (15-17).


Those who claimed to have superior knowledge of Christian truth had left the church and tried to draw others away with them. By denying that Jesus Christ was at the same time fully divine and fully human, they denied a truth that was basic to the Christian faith. Far from being superior Christians, they were enemies of Christ. They showed that within them was the spirit of antichrist (18-19).


In contrast to these rebels, true believers are indwelt by the Spirit of God. This Spirit gives them added confidence that the teaching they originally accepted, which John is now repeating, is indeed the truth (20-21).

The Father and the Son are equally God and are inseparable. Therefore, if people reject Jesus as the Son of God, they also reject the Father. If they accept the Father, they must also accept the Son (22-23). People live in union with the Father through living in union with the Son, and the result of this union is eternal life (24-25).

As the indwelling Spirit confirms the truth of Christ to them, believers will learn to reject the teaching of the deceivers. They know what they have been taught by their teachers from the beginning. They do not need new (false) teachers to come and give them additional (false) teaching (26-27). As believers have a better understanding of God’s character, they will have greater confidence in him and a clearer knowledge of how his children should behave. If they act upon this knowledge, they will have no cause for shame when they meet Christ at his return (28-29).

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