1 John Lessons


1John 2:1-6 Literalize

vs 1 My little children, these things I am writing to you, so that you may not sin at some point in time. But if anyone sins uncharacteristically at some point in time, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.
vs 2  And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.
vs 3  Now by this we know that we have known Him, if we are characteristically keeping His commandments.
vs 4  He who is sayng, "I have known Him," and does not characteristically keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth does not exist in him.
vs 5  But whoever characteristically keeps His word, truly the love of God has been perfected in him. By this we generally know that we exist in Him.
vs 6  He who is saying that he characteristically dwells in Him ought himself also to be characteristically walking just as He had walked. (note: "ought" is speaking of obligation)

vs 1 My little children, these things I am writing to you, so that you may not sin at some point in time. But if anyone sins uncharacteristically at some point in time, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.

Here's one of the few times John uses the aorist with regards to behavior. While those born of God don't characteristically, they may from time to time sin uncharacteristically. A good tree produces good fruit, but it might produce bad fruit on occasion uncharacteristically.

Consequently in saying, "My little children, these things I am writing to you, so that you may not sin at some point in time.", where he's using the aorist, he's indicating his desire for them to never sin at all. Though, as he said previously in 1John 1:8, those who claim to have reach a state of sinless perfection are deceiving themselves. The conditional clause "if anyone sins" is again in the aorist, not present and consequently is limited to those who don't characteristically sin, but who might uncharacteristically sin from time to time. These have an Advocate, Jesus Christ the righteous.

vs 2  And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.

Christ died for the sins of the whole world. Being a victim of unjustified suffering, Jesus was entitled to compensation. And consider the value of who He was, that compensation was sufficient to pay for the sins of the world. This despite the fact that it says in Ps 49:7,8 "No man can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for him—  the ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough." For Jesus was more than a man and more than an angel. Thus the concept of the diety of Christ is essential to the gospel, else God would be seen as unjust in overcompensating Christ for His suffering if He were merely a mortal.

But this is not to say that all will be saved. For though He has the compensation available, He requires faith in Him before he applies it to any individual. Now there are those who would argue that if this were the case, then God would be seen as unjust in that Christ would have died for all the sins of the world and yet not everyone would have ended up saved. But salvation is not simply about justice, it's about grace. Say I work and earn enough to buy a number of houses. I could then, for example, out of grace, dispense houses as free gifts to those who believe in me. Withholding houses from those who do not meet such a condition is not unjust, for it's a matter of grace and not justice. Justice was already satisifed. Jesus received the payment for sins. How He dispenses that payment is His choice. It's a matter of grace.

But some reckon Christ died only for certain people and not others. They hold that God doesn't love everyone, but that God hates most people, predetermining that they will suffer eternal hell fire. If they did evangelism honestly they would not be able to say, "God loves you and wants you to be saved." Rather they would have to say, "Christ may or may not have died for your sins. God may or may not love you. God may or may not have predestined you to hell. And there's nothing you can do about it because God has already determined your fate." Doesn't quite sound like the gospel as the apostles presented it in the Bible! "For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures" 1Cor 15:3 Doesn't sound like he's making exceptions.

vs 3  Now by this we know that we have known Him, if we are characteristically keeping His commandments.

If we characteristically keep His commandments, this doesn't simply indicate we know Him right now. Rather, as indicated by John using the perfect tense, it indicates that we have known Him in the past all the way up to the present time. How can that be? How can our present lifestyle indicate something about the past? The reason it can is because once a person comes to know Christ personally they are born-again, and that has an inevitable impact on their characteristic behavior for the rest of their life.

Now John doesn't specify here what he means by "commandments". For his point has not to do so much with regulations as it does one's attitude of compliance. Such an attitude reflects whether one truly reckons Jesus as Lord beyond simply referring to Jesus as Lord.  Jesus asks rhetorically, "Why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do the things which I say?" Luke 6:46 And consequently He says, "Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven." Mt 7:21 Not that one is saved by keeping regulations, but rather genuine faith results in compliance to His will.

vs 4  He who is sayng, "I have known Him," and does not characteristically keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth does not exist in him.

Here the claim is not simply that one knows Him at this present moment, but rather that one has known Him all the was from some past event to the present time. As logically follows the previous verse, such a man is a liar if in fact he isn't characteristically complying with His commandments. This is like those I mention previously from Mt 7:21 who call Jesus Lord but don't do what He says, whom Jesus indicates will not enter the kingdom of heaven.

Today there are those among Antinomian Christians - those among Christians of a Free Grace Theology - those among the Keswickian camp of thinking - who feel that doing what Jesus commands is merely option. They think they are saved, but have decided not to comply with Jesus as Lord. They are liars. And what happens to liars? They are among the categories of people mentioned in Rev 21:8 of whom "their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death."

vs 5  But whoever characteristically keeps His word, truly the love of God has been perfected in him. By this we generally know that we exist in Him.

But those of a spirit of compliance John says the love of God has been perfected in them. This is not to say their love is perfected, but rather that God's love is perfected. Which I take to mean that God's love for them has had its intended effect, bringing regeneration revealed in one's actions.

This is the general principle by which we know that we are in Christ. Namely there's an inevitable correlation between one's characteristic behavior and their salvation status. For "if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come." 2Cor 5:17

vs 6  He who is saying that he characteristically dwells in Him ought himself also to be characteristically walking just as He had walked. (note: "ought" is speaking of obligation)

Again there are many ways to express the same concept. To be "in Him" is the same concept as to "abide in Him". Can one not "abide in Christ" and yet be reckon saved? Jesus said, "If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned." John 15:6 So, APPARENTLY NOT! Let's establish this now, for the word "abide" (meno in Gk.) is used about 20 times in 1John and this the first.

We'll find, for example, 1John 3:24 supports what John has been saying here with regards to compliance, "he who keeps His commandments abides in Him". But again the abiding is not a consequence of works, but rather is the state of those who put their faith in Christ. For it says in 1John 4:15 "Whoever confesses at some point in time that Jesus is the Son of God, God characteristically dwells in him, and he in God." The "some point" ("confesses" is in the aorist, and therefore an event), is the point of salvation, the consequence of which is regeneration leading to a characteristic behavior of compliance. (It all fits together!)

Now another thing about 1John 1:6 is the word "ought". This word in the Greek speaks of a sense of obligation and so gets at the attitude of the regenerate in complying to Jesus' commands. This is not to be interpreted as many legalists do with regards to many commands given to Christians by throwing the phrase "in order to be saved" at the end. But rather having been saved by grace through faith, there is a sense of obligation in responses to the gracious given and the magnitude of the free gift. Thus, for example, in the parable of the unforgiving servant of Matthew 18 it should have gone without saying on the Master's part that the servant he forgave would have been likewise gracious to his fellow servant. But lacking such graciousness told the Master that the servant he forgave didn't really receive the gift in the spirit of which it was given and so took it back.

This sense of obligation should come naturally to those who realize the magnitude of the free gift. For even with regards to our own family Paul writes, "If a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God." 1Tim 5:4 Children are not legally bound to repay their parents for raising them. But there should be a natural sense of obligation for the graciousness shown them.


The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources

Jul 29,2015