WALKING IN THE
LIGHT; FOR TO
IS THROUGH THE
My little children--The diminutive expresses the tender
affection of an aged pastor and spiritual father. My own dear
children, that is, sons and daughters (see on
My purpose in writing what I have just written is not that you should
abuse them as giving a license to sin but, on the contrary, "in order
that ye may not sin at all" (the Greek aorist, implying the
absence not only of the habit, but of single acts of sin [ALFORD]). In order to "walk in the light"
(1Jo 1:5, 7),
the first step is confession of sin
is that we should forsake all sin. The divine purpose has for
its aim, either to prevent the commission of, or to destroy sin [BENGEL].
And, &c.--connected with the former; Furthermore, "if any
man sin," let him, while loathing and condemning it, not fear to go at
once to God, the Judge, confessing it, for "we have an Advocate with
Him." He is speaking of a BELIEVER'S
occasional sins of infirmity through Satan's fraud and malice.
The use of "we" immediately afterwards implies that we all are
liable to this, though not necessarily constrained to sin.
we have an advocate--Advocacy is God's family blessing; other
blessings He grants to good and bad alike, but justification,
sanctification, continued intercession, and peace, He grants to His
advocate--Greek, "paraclete," the same term as is
applied to the Holy Ghost, as the "other Comforter"; showing the unity
of the Second and Third Persons of the Trinity. Christ is the
Intercessor for us above; and, in His absence, here below the
Holy Ghost is the other Intercessor in us. Christ's
advocacy is inseparable from the Holy Spirit's comfort
and working in us, as the spirit of intercessory prayer.
righteous--As our "advocate," Christ is not a mere suppliant
petitioner. He pleads for us on the ground of justice, or
righteousness, as well as mercy. Though He can say nothing good
of us, He can say much for us. It is His
righteousness, or obedience to the law, and endurance of its
full penalty for us, on which He grounds His claim for our acquittal.
The sense therefore is, "in that He is righteous"; in contrast
to our sin ("if any man sin"). The Father, by raising
Him from the dead, and setting Him at His own right, has once for all
accepted Christ's claim for us. Therefore the accuser's charges against
God's children are vain. "The righteousness of Christ stands on our
side; for God's righteousness is, in Jesus Christ, ours" [LUTHER].
2. And he--Greek, "And Himself." He is our
all-prevailing Advocate, because He is Himself "the
propitiation"; abstract, as in
He is to us all that is needed for propitiation "in behalf of
our sins"; the propitiatory sacrifice, provided by the Father's
love, removing the estrangement, and appeasing the righteous wrath, on
God's part, against the sinner. "There is no incongruity that a father
should be offended with that son whom he loveth, and at that
time offended with him when he loveth him" [BISHOP PEARSON]. The only other
place in the New Testament where Greek "propitiation" occurs, is
it answers in the Septuagint to Hebrew, "caphar,"
to effect an atonement or reconciliation with God; and in
to the sin offering. In
Greek, it is "propitiatory," that is, the mercy seat, or lid of
the ark whereon God, represented by the Shekinah glory above it, met
His people, represented by the high priest who sprinkled the blood of
the sacrifice on it.
ours--believers: not Jews, in contrast to Gentiles; for
he is not writing to Jews
also for the sins of the whole world--Christ's "advocacy" is
limited to believers
His propitiation extends as widely as sin extends: see on
"denying the Lord that bought them." "The whole world" cannot be
restricted to the believing portion of the world (compare
and "the whole world,"
"Thou, too, art part of the world, so that thine heart cannot deceive
itself and think, The Lord died for Peter and Paul, but not for me"
3. hereby--Greek, "in this." "It is herein," and
herein only, that we know (present tense) that we have knowledge of
(perfect tense, once-for-all obtained and continuing knowledge
(1Jo 2:4, 13, 14).
Tokens whereby to discern grace are frequently given in this Epistle.
The Gnostics, by the Spirit's prescient forewarning, are refuted, who
boasted of knowledge, but set aside obedience. "Know
Him," namely, as "the righteous"
(1Jo 2:1, 29);
our "Advocate and Intercessor."
keep--John's favorite word, instead of "do," literally, "watch,"
"guard," and "keep safe" as a precious thing; observing so as to keep.
So Christ Himself. Not faultless conformity, but hearty acceptance of,
and willing subjection to, God's whole revealed will, is meant.
commandments--injunctions of faith, love, and obedience.
John never uses "the law" to express the rule of Christian obedience:
he uses it as the Mosaic law.
4. I know--Greek, "I have knowledge of (perfect)
Him." Compare with this verse
5. Not merely repeating the proposition,
or asserting the merely opposite alternative to
but expanding the "know Him" of
into "in Him, verily (not as a matter of vain boasting) is the love of
(that is towards) God perfected," and "we are in Him." Love here
answers to knowledge in
In proportion as we love God, in that same proportion we know
Him, and vice versa, until our love and knowledge shall attain
their full maturity of perfection.
his word--His word is one (see on
and comprises His "commandments," which are many
hereby--in our progressing towards this ideal of perfected love
and obedience. There is a gradation:
"we are in Him";
"abideth in Him"; respectively, knowledge, fellowship,
abiding constancy. [BENGEL].
6. abideth--implying a condition lasting, without intermission,
and without end.
He that saith . . . ought--so that his deeds may be
consistent with his words.
even as he--Believers readily supply the name, their hearts
being full of Him (compare
"Even as He walked" when on earth, especially in respect to
love. John delights in referring to Christ as the model man,
with the words, "Even as He," &c. "It is not Christ's walking on the
sea, but His ordinary walk, that we are called on to imitate" [LUTHER].
7. Brethren--The oldest manuscripts and versions read instead,
"Beloved," appropriate to the subject here, love.
no new commandment--namely, love, the main principle of
walking as Christ walked
and that commandment, of which one exemplification is presently given,
1Jo 2:9, 10,
the love of brethren.
ye had from the beginning--from the time that ye first heard the
Gospel word preached.
8. a new commandment--It was "old," in that Christians as
such had heard it from the first; but "new" (Greek,
"kaine," not "nea": new and different from the
old legal precept) in that it was first clearly
promulgated with Christianity; though the inner spirit of the
law was love even to enemies, yet it was enveloped in some
bitter precepts which caused it to be temporarily almost unrecognized,
till the Gospel came. Christianity first put love to brethren on
the new and highest MOTIVE, instinctive
love to Him who first loved us, constraining us to love all, even
enemies, thereby walking in the steps of Him who loved us when enemies.
So Jesus calls it "new,"
Joh 13:34, 35,
"Love one another as I have loved you" (the new motive);
which thing is true in him and in you--"In Christ all
things are always true, and were so from the beginning; but in
Christ and in us conjointly the commandment [the love of
brethren] is then true when we acknowledge the truth which is
in Him, and have the same flourishing in us" [BENGEL]. ALFORD explains, "Which
thing (the fact that the commandment is a new one) is true in
Him and in you because the darkness is passing away, and the
true light is now shining; that is, the commandment is a new
one, and this is true both in the case of Christ and in the case of
you; because in you the darkness is passing away, and in
Him the true light is shining; therefore, on both accounts, the
command is a new one: new as regards you, because you are newly
come from darkness into light; new as regards Him, because He uttered
it when He came into the world to lighten every man, and began that
shining which even now continues." I prefer, as BENGEL, to explain, The new commandment finds its
truth in its practical realization in the walk of
Christians in union with Christ. Compare the use of "verily,"
The repetition of "in" before "you," "in Him and in you," not "in Him
and you" implies that the love commandment finds its realization
separately: first it did so "in Him," and then it does so
"in us," in so far as we now "also walk even as He walked"; and yet it
finds its realization also conjointly, by the two being united
in one sentence, even as it is by virtue of the love commandment having
been first fulfilled in Him, that it is also now fulfilled in
us, through His Spirit in us: compare a similar case,
"My Father and your Father"; by virtue of His being
"My Father," He is also your Father.
darkness is past--rather, as in
"is passing away." It shall not be wholly "past" until "the Sun of
righteousness" shall arise visibly; "the light is now shining"
already, though but partially until the day bursts forth.
9-11. There is no mean between light and darkness, love
and hatred, life and death, God and the world:
wherever spiritual life is, however weak, there darkness
and death no longer reign, and love supplants
holds good: wherever life is not, there death, darkness,
the flesh, the world, and hatred, however glossed over
and hidden from man's observa