By William Y. Beasley
John did not keep his readers in the dark as to the reason for his writing the book of first John: “These things have I written unto you, that ye may know that ye have eternal life, even unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God” (5:13). In our last lesson we considered the basis of our faith-the testimony of eye, ear and hand witnesses (that which was known by the physical senses); and the basis of our fellowship-to “walk in the light, as he is in the light” (1 John 1:7):
God’s Paraclete (1 John 2:1-2)
Some may Have gotten the idea from 1 John 1:8, 10, written to the saved, that it was alright to sin-“everyone does.” John wrote “that ye may not sin” (2:1). There is no sin which we can entirely blame on another person and there is no sin that we are justified in committing before God. Sin is exceedingly terrible! We do not, I fear, appreciate the sinfulness of sin, but sin is not the end. What do we do with sin? What do we do when we realize that we are guilty of sin?
Although John wrote that his readers “may not sin” (2:1), his next words were “And if any man sin . . . ” For some time, this has come across on reading as “but” or “but when.” It is most interesting to me that it is so rendered in some of the modern speech translations: (1) “. . . but if anyone should sin . . .” (TCNT), (2) “. . . yet if anyone does sin . . .” (Goodspeed), (3) “But if a man should sin . . .” (Phillips), and (4) “But if anyone does sin . . .” (New International Version). It is evident that the Greek word kai can, under some circumstances, be translated by words other than “and.”
When we first learned that we were sinners before God, we turned to Jesus Christ in baptism-crying, as it were, “Lord, save me” (Acts 22:16; 1 Pet. 3:21)! When we learn we have sinned, after our primary obedience to the gospel, we turn once again to our Paraclete (Advocate, Comforter-John 14:16, 26, Helper, Counsel for defence, One who will intercede for us, etc.), Jesus Christ. In the term “Paraclete,” we see all of the ideas expressed above and much more. Our Paraclete does not intercede for us just because we have sinned, but He does when we obey His will (1 John 1:9; James 5:16). Jesus Christ was offered as the “propitiation” for “the whole world” (John 3:16), but not all will accept His sacrificial death in their behalf (Matt. 7:13-14; Rom. 10:16).
Knowing God (1 John 2:3-6)
To “know” Jesus is to “keep His commandments” (2:3; Matt. 7:21ff; John 15:14). To claim otherwise is to be guilty of lying (2:4). There is some question as to what is modified by the phrase, “Hereby we know that we are in him” (2:5). The KJV has it modifying the preceding statement while the ASV connects it with what follows. It teaches truth if applied to either or both. We know we are in Him when we keep His word (commandments) and/or when we “walk even as He walked” (2:6; 1 Pet. 2:23, 29; John 13:15).
A New Commandment (1 John 2:7-11)
The “old commandment” is “the word” (2:7). This could refer to the word of Christ or to the Word, Christ, i.e., “to walk even as He walked” (2:6). The “new commandment” is love. The subject under consideration is love of one’s brother (2:9-11). This commandment is “new” in degree; we are to love one another, Jesus said, “even as I have loved you” (John 13:34).
One cannot walk in the light and hate his brother (2:9). Think of someone whom you love-their love, affection, goodwill means much to you. Picture yourself speaking to them and their turning up their nose, refusing to speak, pretending to not hear-that hurts doesn’t it? The church member who would do such to a brother-in-Christ “is in the darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because the darkness hath blinded his eyes” (2:11). This, of course, is but one application of hating a brother. The same principle would apply to the one who would refuse a brother in need (1 John 3:17), refuse to go to the one astray (Jas. 5:19-20), refuse to forgive (Matt. 6:12-15; Mark 11:2526), etc.
Do you, dear reader, “know that ye have eternal life” (1 John 5:13)? Do you turn to the Paraclete (Advocate) with the Father when you see your sin? Are you keeping His commandments (word)? Are you walking even as He walked? Do you love your brother/sister in Christ?
Truth Magazine XXII: 46, p. 744
November 23, 1978