1 John 2:7-11

In this second portion of 1 John 2, John begins to turn his attention to the way Christ lived and what that means for us. The command to love one another (and the consequences for failing to do so) dominate this section. Through it all, the focus remains, however, on fellowship: fellowship first with God through Christ, and second by expressing (and indeed living out) that fellowship by keeping Christ’s command to “love one another.”

v7. Next, John points out that what he is saying is “not an new command, but an old one.” That is, this is something that the church had always known. In fact, they “have had it since the beginning.” So what is this “old command.” John says it “is the message you have heard.” That message, of course, is in general the gospel of Jesus Christ, and in particular Jesus’ command that we “love one another.” That is how He lived, what He commanded us to do, and how we are likewise to live.

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1 John 2:1-6

As we begin looking at the second chapter of this book, I want to start by noting that this is one of those places where the chapter division is probably much more confusing than helpful. Look at the last two verses of chapter one and the first two verses of chapter two taken together:

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us. My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. (NIV)

Perhap you can immediately see that there is no break in thought here.  So try to make it a point to understand these verses in light of the end of chapter one as you study them.

v1. John refers to this church affectionately as his “little children,” reminding them both of their need for his guidance as well as his love for them. He then reminds them that he writes “this . . . so that you will not sin.” The “this” refers to the previous few verses. In telling the church that Jesus had paid the price for their sins, far from giving them a license to do whatever they want, he tells them that this should encourage them not to sin! But how could that be? If we follow the logic of the apostle so far, the answer is fairly straightforward. If we walk in sin, then we are liars. We are deceived. We are living in darkness. Therefore, we have no fellowship with God or with one another. In other words, sin has serious consequences!

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1 John 1:1-10 (Part 2)

v5. Now John tells his readers just what it is that they heard, “the message” that they are passing on, that will fulfill the church’s joy: “God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.” I encourage you to spend some time meditating on two aspects of that message. The first is the message itself. Just think about God as pure light with not a hint of shadow (which reminds me of Jas. 1:17). A philosopher named Etienne Gilson, thinking about God as light, wrote this:

    We do not know what God is, but only what He is not, so that we know Him the better as we more clearly see that He is infinitely different from everything else. This principle, however, can be used in two different ways. We can, with St. Thomas, posit it at the beginning and at the end of our theology; it will then act as both a general qualification applying to all theological statements, and as an invitation to transcend theology, once we are through with it, by entering the depth of the mystical life. Yet between his initial statement that God is, strictly speaking, unknowable, and his ultimate endeavor to experience by love that which surpasses human understanding, St. Thomas Aquinas never forgets, that if we do not know God, the reason is not that God is obscure, but rather that He is blinding light. The whole theology of St. Thomas points to the supreme intelligibility of what lies hidden in the mystery of God. Now, if God is intelligible in Himself, what little we know about Him may be almost nothing, but it is not nothing, and it is infinitely more important than all the rest. In short, even when St. Thomas Aquinas uses reason as a means to a mystical end, he does not use it in a mystical way. Reason is made to throw light everywhere it shines; where darkness becomes invincible, reason gives way to love, and there is the beginning of the mystical life. (Etienne Gilson,

The Unity of Philosophical Experience 

    (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1964), 86)

The second aspect I’d like you to think about is the fact that John–indeed, the apostolic community–somehow saw this as the essential way to distill all of what Christ had said and done during His three years of public ministry. Remember that John 1:18 says that Jesus has “made [the Father] known.” In seeing Jesus, what the disciples saw was light. And why not? Jesus is the light of the world. It’s easy to ask the same things about ourselves. If we were to ask people what our lives said about God, would they be able to say anything like, “He is light”?

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