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 sin, they may
from time to time sin uncharacteristically. A good tree produces
good fruit, but it might produce bad fruit on occasion
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
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
considering 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
deity 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 satisfied.
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 3Now 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
saying, "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 Christians of a Free Grace Theology who feel that
doing what Jesus commands is merely optional. They think that people can
be saved without having the intention of treating Jesus as Lord. But in
fact those who claim to know Jesus but don't characteristically keep
his commands don't really know him. 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." Thus such people are not saved. Saving faith is a sincere faith and accepts the implications of Jesus being Lord.
The object of Christian faith is not merely the promise of God. It's
also faith in the person making the promise, accepting Him for who He
vs 5But 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. "τελειοω", the word for made perfect means to carry to completion. NIV has it accurately as "made complete".
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 graciousness 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 showed the Master that 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.