1 John 2:15-27

In the last section, John addressed the spiritual state of the church he was writing to and encouraged them on in continued growth. He had already talked about the importance of loving one another. Now he turns his attention on what they were not to love and the dangers of this world.

v15. While Christians are required to “love their brother and sister,” on the other hand they are forbidden to “love the world or anything in the world.” This is a blanket statement that will be clarified shortly, but its force should not be diminished. Taken seriously, this command is as hard to keep as the positive command to love each other (and maybe for the same reason!). It’s easier, though, when we realize how important it is. John tells his readers that if they do love the world, “then the love of the Father is not in him.” How can we be in fellowship with God if “the love of the Father” is not in us? To put it in simple, stark terms, we either love each other and so are in fellowship with God and one another, or we love the world and are not in fellowship with God (and so not with one another, either).

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1 John 2:12-14

The next three verses are an obvious unit. Here, we have two panels of three statements: “I write/wrote to you children/fathers/young men.” In the Bible, repetition often marks emphasis, but I think John is doing more than that here. As we look at the subtle changes he makes when he restates his reasons for writing, we learn something about how John views the Christian life.

v12. First, John addresses “dear children,” whose “sins have been forgiven on account of His name.” The word for “children” here certainly implies a young child (so “little children” is a good translation), but the primary emphasis probably is not so much on age as it is on relationship. A child is the offspring of someone. The term speaks either to the actual relationship the child enjoys with her parents or at least to the possibility (and expectation of) that relationship. We are, then, God’s “children” in virtue of the fact that our “sins have been forgiven on account of His name.” This is what all Christians have in common. It is the beginning and basis of the Christian life: our forgiveness in and for Him.

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