1 John 2 – Summary Exposition

1 John 2.1-2. Jesus Christ supports and speaks for us as our advocate and propitiation before the Father when our faith is weak and when we sin. He is qualified to do so because Advocate (NASB) is the Greek word parakletos παρακλητος, one called to one’s aid, a legal assistant, an intercessor. See also John 14.16; 14.26; 15.26; 16.7 for its NT uses. What does this mean? It cannot mean to prevent the loss of our salvation (John 1.29; 1 John 3.1; Romans 8.33). But we do know that our faith is tested (1 Peter 1.6-9; James 1.2-3) and we can fail to believe God (2 Timothy 2.18) as illustrated by Peter in Luke 22.28-34 with Luke 22.54-62. Jesus prayed for Peter that his faith would not fail, that when he returned to his faithfulness he would strengthen his brothers—maintain his faith, come back to the Lord, and minister. Jesus as our advocate is praying for us when we go through testing. See Zane Hodges, The Epistles of John, pages 69-70.

    1. Jesus Christ is our advocate, our parakletos. He prays to the Father for us when our faith is severely tested or fails. He prays for us that our CWL faith is strong. When you or I want to give up, or disbelieve that God will provide what is needed or work his will through us or use us in Christian service Jesus stands by us and prays for us. This should give us the courage to continue in the faith. We can come through the test. We can be productive.
    2. Jesus Christ is qualified to support us because he is the propitiation `ιλασμος hilasmos for our sins and for the sins of the whole world (unlimited atonement). This is real and personal in contrast to the OT offering that was a ritual until the real event happened. Propitiation, Greek hilasmos (also 1 John 4:10), a sin offering. This word is related to the Greek word hilasterion found in Romans 3:25 and Hebrews 9.5, and also in the LXX translation of the Hebrew Bible in Leviticus 16.2 and Exodus 25.17 “mercy seat” where the blood was applied on the day of atonement, Hebrew kapporeth כַּפֹּ֫רֶת propitiatory, cover over sin. The mercy seat was made of gold and abut 45 inches by 27 inches. When a believer sins, that sin was covered by Jesus’ death for all of us. He also defends us against accusation by the enemy. Luke 18.13 uses a related word translated “be merciful” to me. That word is `λασκομαι to be favorably inclined, to conciliate, to propitiate, to wipe out. Also Hebrews 2.17, to make propitiation. He substituted himself for the sins of everyone and is therefore qualified to come to our aid.
  1. 1 John 2.3-6. Knowing God refers to a believer having good friendship, fellowship, and camaraderie with the Lord, also called abiding, while keeping God’s word shows that we love God. We have a parallel in 1 John 1.6 where a believer claims to have fellowship with God, and yet walks in darkness. In 1 John 2 one claims to know God on an intimate, friend to friend level, yet if he does not keep God’s commandments he is not being truthful. We all know of relationships between people where one does not really know the other person. “I guess I did not know him very well,” is expressed when one person does things that the other did not expect. See John 14.5-9 where Jesus, Thomas, and Philip are in view.
    1. 1 John 2.3-5. We are confident that we know Jesus Christ well if we now keep his commandments. If we do not keep his commandments, we really do not know him very well. Furthermore, keeping God’s word demonstrates that the believer loves God and that his love for God has been perfected or become stronger and better. (God is an objective genitive; has been perfected is τελειοω to complete, to accomplish, perfect passive indicative which indicates a action that is completed with present results.)
    2. Compare 1 John 1.6 which gives the same lesson from another view. If one claims to abide in Christ that one will live the way Christ lived. Abide μενω, is a favorite word of John. It refers to staying in a place, to remain. It refers to what John has already addressed in 1 John 1, fellowship or walking in the light. See John 15.
  2. 1 John 2.7-11. Love for a believer is Christ’s command and goes with walking in the light while hating the brother goes with walking in darkness. Jesus gave the old commandment in John 13.34-35, “that you love one another.”
    1. 1 John 2.8. The new commandment is really a fresh approach to the old command. It is the same, but fresh, because Jesus has come and shown by his life what godly love is and how to love one another. Now believers can imitate him.
    2. 1 John 2.9-11. Note the same ideas as in 1 John 1—walk, light, darkness. Walking in light does not produce hatred of his brother. Love is the expression of abiding in the light. Hatred is the expression of walking in darkness. The light of God’s word and Jesus’ life prevents stumbling (Psalm 119.65; John 8.12).
  3. 1 John 2.12-14. John is apparently viewing his readers by using three spiritual descriptions or strengths of people within the congregation. They may even overlap. They are children, fathers, and young men. Children are recent believers—either physical age, time as believers, or spiritual maturity. They especially treasure their forgiveness and have child-like trust in their heavenly Father. The fathers have been believers longest. They have more experience in fellowship with Jesus “him from the beginning,” 1 John 1.1-4. The young men are those who have spiritual and physical energy, and experience more dramatic spiritual victory.
    1. Why do this? He seems to have characterized the various strengths of the congregation in order to teach them certain doctrines, to encourage them to continue to mature in the faith, and to more spiritual productivity. The action words forgiven, known, overcome, known, known, and overcome are perfect tenses which emphasize a completed action with present results.
  4. 1 John 2.15-17. John contrasts loving the world and all that is in it with loving our heavenly Father. We are not to love the world in the sense that it holds our attentions and loyalty.
    1. The Greek words for love are agapao αγαπαω and agape αγαπη. These words emphasizes sacrifice, responsibility, protection, and spiritual welfare. See 1 Corinthians 13.4-7. Placing supreme value on the world instead of our heavenly Father is not only wrong, it is loving something that is only temporary. One who loves the Father will do the Father’s will and that kind of life and production lasts forever. The lust of the flesh is anything that flesh craves, such as any kind of addiction. The lust of the eyes is anything that the eyes see and must have, often called covetousness. The boastful pride of life is boastful arrogance about one’s self, possessions, ideas, or plans. Romans 12.1-2 adds Paul’s words about worldliness.
  5. 1 John 2.18-27. The acceptance of Jesus as God is the foundational truth. John’s audience has the anointing—the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit confirms in us that Jesus is Lord God. One who denies that Jesus is the Christ is against Christ “antichrist.” Let these truths abide is believers.
    1. 1 John 2.18-23. The antichrist philosophy begins with denying that Jesus is Messiah God, a denial that he is undiminished deity and true humanity in one person forever (Hypostatic Union). People opposed to the doctrine of Christ left the congregation. They showed that they were not believers or that they had replaced Christology with anti-christology. They deny that Jesus is the Christ.
    2. 1 John 2.24-25. John encourages his readers to hold to the doctrine of Christ. They know the doctrine of Christ correctly because they have been instructed through the Holy Spirit’s ministry combined with the apostles’ teaching. Finally, John makes the plea that this Christology truth continue to abide in them. Christology is foundational to the promise of eternal life that comes through Jesus Christ.
  6. 1 John 2.26-27. False teachers work to deceive those who hold the truth about Jesus Christ. But John knows that his audience knows the truth. The Holy Spirit anointed them, he lives in them, and according to John 14.26 and John 16.13, the Holy Spirit was given to teach them, and he does.
    1. When John wrote in 1 John 2.27, ”that you have no need for anyone to teach you,” the subject in context is that Jesus is God. They understand the subject. They have learned it. John even spells it out in John 1 and 1 John 1. He is saying that the grasp of who Jesus is comes from the teaching of the Holy Spirit. John does not mean everyone is his own teacher so that no one needs to teach them about anything. That is forced into the context. And if that is his meaning (and it is not), that denies even this letter by John in which he is teaching them many truths. Also, what about all the Scripture that say gifted men teach others (1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, Ephesians 4, Hebrews 5. 11ff, and many others). He finishes 1 John 2.27 by emphasizing another truth that the anointing taught them: to abide (present active indicative of μενω meno, to remain, to abide, to stay) in Christ, which they do. This is an important topic of John. See John 15.
  7. 1 John 2.28-29. The final encouragement in the chapter is to abide in Christ (abide is the present active imperative of μενω meno) and to live righteously.
    1. 1 John 2.28. Abiding ensures confidence when Christ returns for his church. Jesus, in John 15 taught that abiding in Christ is a relationship that depends on Christ. This ensures no shame when the Lord returns.
    2. 1 John 2.28. Righteous living comes from being born from God. Righteousness is part of the new Christ nature.