I John

I John 3:4-10 Two Seeds.

“Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness” (v. 4). This verse does not exhaust everything that the Scriptures teach us concerning sin, this is why John says ‘also’, because there also are other things that sin is. However, whatever else one might say that sin is, it is lawlessness. This is why the Westminster Standards define it this way. “Q. 14. What is sin? A. Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God.” Paul, in referring specifically to ‘transgression’ said the same thing. “Where there is no law there is no transgression” (Rom. 4:15). “And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin” (v. 5). So here we see the connection between these verses and the previous verses. Our hope is not just that Jesus was manifested (Cf. 1:2), nor just that He will be revealed once again, but rather our hope is that “we shall be like Him” (3:2), and therefore this hope inspires us to purify ourselves “just as He is pure” (3:3).

“He was manifested to take away our sins” (Cf. Jn. 1:29). This is the nature of His anointing as Messiah in His threefold office as Prophet, Priest, and King. He is able to take away our sin because “in Him there is no sin.” “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might be the righteousness of God in Him” (II Cor. 5:21). So our hope is that “we shall be like Him,” and for this reason we seek to purify ourselves, “just as He is pure.” This is our goal, but while we remain in this world we are not there yet. This is how we need to understand verse 6, otherwise we have John and others contradicting themselves. “The new birth sets a person irrevocably against sin, and because the seed of new life “remains” in that person (v. 9; cf. John 10:28, 29), the defeat of corruption and death for him is inevitable. In this sense sin will be impossible (Rom. 6:8, 9). John addresses this absolute aspect of being born again and speaks accordingly. He is not denying that sin and death have influence until the very end (1 Cor. 15:26; Rev. 20:14)” (NKJV p. 1989).

Again, John made the point that “if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1:9). Nevertheless, it is because there is forgiveness in Christ that we are cleansed “from all unrighteousness” (1:10). This is what it means to see Him, know Him, and abide in Him (v. 6). As noted earlier, the practice of righteousness is the fruit that shows that we abide in Him (v. 7). Similarly, those who have as the general course of their lives unrighteous practices, show that they are of the devil (v. 8). There are two seeds and two seeds only (Cf. Mt. 13:38). Jesus was not only “manifested to take away our sins” (v. 5), but also to “destroy the works of the devil” (v. 8). We show that we are God’s tekna or offspring, born again of the Spirit, if day by day over the course of our lives, we are more and more reflective of His image (v. 9 Cf. Jn. 3:3). “In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother” (v. 10).

I John

I John 3:1-3 What is our hope?

What is our hope? John marvelled that we should be called the children of God, because as he already noted, we are still sinners (1:8-2:2). However, our goal is to “walk as he walked” (2:6). We are able to do this because forgiveness is a daily thing, and we have been given several means to this end. True faith is seen in doctrine and life. We are not perfect, but are those who are growing and changing day by day, into his likeness. The more we do image Christ, the more that antichristian culture will hate us (v. 1). It is unmistakeable that John believed and taught that all humanity will one day see him revealed again, but this is not precisely the hope he speaks of, rather it is this-“but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him” (v. 3). This is the hope that motivates us in the present, to purify ourselves, “just as He is pure” (v. 3). So is our hope simply in Him returning, or is it that one day we shall be like him-pure as he is pure?

I John

I John 2:24-29 Abiding.

John says ‘therefore’, so based on what he has already written, he wants his audience to remember what was abiding in them, which is the word of God (2:14b), and the anointing of the Spirit (2:20). There is also an important principle here-that they should continue in what they had from the beginning, which is essentially what he has been reminding them of from the beginning of this letter. 2:12-14 was a reminder that one must grow into spiritual maturity, and to this end it is important to always strengthen what remains. On can never be fooled into thinking because forgiveness of sins is basic that somehow we don’t need it anymore. In building a house one must have a solid foundation and cornerstone to build on, and these must be incorporated in such a way that they remain as solid as at the beginning.

He warned about those who deny the Son, and now he emphasizes the opposite, namely to “abide in the Son and in the Father” (v. 24b ). As Jesus himself taught, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make our home with him” (Jn. 14:23). Again, “whoever denies the Son,” that he is the promised Messiah who has come in the flesh, “does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also” (v. 23). “And this is the promise that He has promised us-eternal life” (v. 25 Cf. Jn. 3:15; 6:40; 17:2-3). John wrote to his audience because there were those who were trying to deceive them concerning those things he had reminded them of (v. 26). This is the context of verse 27-to guard against the deceivers and their deception.

John certainly was not telling them to reject all teaching, especially since this would include his letter. Again, they needed to remember to keep and build on what they had already been taught-“concerning all things.” This was one of the key activities of the Spirit-to teach us (Cf. Jn. 14:16; 16:13). At verse 18 he addressed those who were paidia, but at verse 28 he goes back to addressing tekna or babes. To this end his message also returns to the basics of abiding. If one focuses on abiding in Him, then this will be the saint’s confidence and assurance that we will not be ashamed when judgment comes (Cf. 3:21). Again, we can know who are true and who are deceivers, and that we ourselves abide in Him and He in us, through fruit bearing because, “everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him” (v. 29 Cf. 3:7, 10; 4:17).

The Antichrist, Antichrists, And The Truth.

I John 2:18-23 The Antichrist, Antichrists, And The Truth.

As noted previously, John now addresses those who have grown beyond being babes, to the next stage of their spiritual growth and training as little children. He also defines the context in which he writes about the Antichrist and antichrists. He called it “the last hour.” The KJV translates this as ‘time’, but it is a very specific word, and not the same as, for example, the word translated as ‘time’ at Jude 18-which is kronon, from which we get chronological. Instead, John chooses to use the word ‘hora’ from which we actually get the word ‘hour’, also ‘hora’ in Latin, and ‘hore’ in old French. Strong’s defines it as “hour, instant, short time. There are other occurrences of hora where it would have also been more appropriate to translate it as ‘hour’ and not ‘time’ (Cf. Mt. 18:1; Lk. 14:17; Jn. 16:2, 4, 25; Rev. 14:15-as in v. 7).

Whenever one encounters multiple English translations of the same Greek word, and especially when the context might not be as clear as one would like, it is always best to go to a single verse or passage, from the same human author, where more than one Greek word is translated with the same English word, and ask if it is appropriate. We have such an instance at Romans 13:11. Paul’s audience was called to love, “and do this, knowing the time (kairon), that now it is high time (hora-hour), to awake out of sleep; for now salvation is nearer than when we first believed.” The point here is that hora specifies a shorter time than kairon, in fact the shortest part of kairon that the bible refers to. We also see this in the phrase “day…and at an hour” (Lk. 12:46).

The question then is-the last hour of what? It is highly unlikely that this could be interpreted as an indefinite period of time, for the reasons already given. This would be to make the opposite point of John calling it not only an hour, but the last hour. This would appear to reiterate what Jesus said in Matthew 24:34 when he talked about the tribulations that would come upon that generation. We are helped in this investigation by the distinction which John makes between the Antichrist and antichrists. There is a specific Antichrist that would be coming at that our, but this did not preclude the reality that there were many antichrists already present. It is the very presence of these antichrists that led John to say that the Antichrist was coming in that hour.

Despite the popularity of the word ‘antichrist’, it is interesting to note that John’s letters are the only place we find this word. The critical text (NU) omits any definite article ay verse 18, and in the ESV and other translations, the definite article is not included. This is a critical point, because I John 2:22 does have the definite article in the NU, and thus it is included in the ESV (for example), but then they did not capitalize the Antichrist. This inclusion of the definite article with ‘Antichristos’ is crucial. There is a specific individual to come at their hour, but there is also the spirit of this individual that had already appeared as “many antichrists,” without the definite article (Cf. 4:3). However, John does include the definite article in his second letter at verse 7, but the NKJV does not include it in translation.

John was really saying the same thing in both letters. In the latter he wrote about many deceivers who had gone out into the kosmon, who were doing so under the influence, as it were, of “ho planos kai ho antichristos-the Deceiver and the Antichrist.” The Antichrist and the Deceiver, and the spirit of this individual, manifested itself in many antichrists and deceivers, and they are distinguished by a two key points. Firstly, John says these are those who deny “that Jesus is the Christ” (v. 22a). So they deny that the man Jesus was the promised Messiah. In this denial then, John makes the point that they are also denying the Father, because the fulfillment had been proven. Secondly, anyone who denies that this One has arrived in the flesh are also antichrist (I Jn. 4:3; II Jn. 7).

Couched in this context are the famous words of verse 19. “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us, but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.” So these were people who at one time were numbered with those who believed that Jesus was the promised Messiah, and that this One had appeared in the flesh. Those who left their number departed from these truths. Furthermore, John says that his readers or hearers knew these truths because they also had the Spirit (vv. 20-21). So here we see a third thing that characterized the true church, and the denial of which characterized the antichrist(s), and that is the Trinity. He who accepts these truths concerning Jesus, also has the Father (vv. 22-23).

Do Not Love The World.

I John 2:15-17 Do Not Love The World.

“Do not love the world or the things in the world” (v. 15a). The word for world here is kosmos. It is an all inclusive term referring to the whole of creation. On the surface it seems to parallel what Paul said at Romans 12:2, but there Paul refers to aioni or age, which is certainly related but not the same.* When John refers to kosmon and then kosmo in the above instance, he intends to include the whole of the created order. Is it wrong to love what God has made? No, it is not. However, here again is another word in the English, namely ‘love’ that has several Greek words behind it.** The word that John uses here is agapate, a word reserved for our relationship with the Lord, which is not a devotion we should have for what he has made (Cf. Mt. 6:24). The word kosmon can also refer to the world of the sinfulness of man and Satan, and the opposition of this “world” to the Lord and his people.

It is about this world that Paul said we should not be conformed, but rather we should be renewed in our minds that we “may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Rom. 12:2 Cf. Js. 1:27; 4:4). This is also where the word aionos or age can be described as an “evil age” (Gal. 1:4). John defines what he means by world in the next verse. “For all that is in the world-the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life-is not of the Father but is of the world” (v. 16). John may very well have had the words of Moses in mind when he recorded the temptation of Satan to Eve. “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food (lust of the flesh), that it was pleasant to the eyes (the lust of the eyes), and a tree desirable to make one wise (the pride of life), she took of its fruit and ate” Gen. 3:6.

‘Epithumia’ refers to desires which in this context is translated as ‘lust’. This is how it is translated elsewhere (Mt. 5:28; I Cor. 10:6; Gal. 6:16; I Tim. 3:1; Js. 4:2; I Pet. 2:2; II Pet. 1:4; 2:10). At I Thessalonians it is modified by another word which can also be translated as lust, depending on the context-“ev pathei epithumias” or “in passion of lust” (4:5). The NKJV translates the latter as ‘desires’ at James 1:14-15, but in the context, these desires give birth to sin and death. In the KJV it is translated as ‘lust’ at Romans 7:7, which the NKJV translates as covetousness, which since it refers to the tenth commandment, would suggest that it is a better translation in that context. There are other instances of this word, that because of the context are translated as ‘desires’ (Luke 17:22; 22:15; Phil. 1:23; I Th. 2:17; Heb. 6:11; I Pet. 1:12; Rev. 9:6).

So context is important in translation. Some words cannot simply be translated from a dictionary definition when the context is necessary to determine the true meaning. In any case, John responds to this evil triumvirate in order in verse 17. “And the world is passing away” (v. 17a)-this is as a result of what James spoke of-evil desires giving in to temptation and thus enticed, which ultimately results in sin and death (Js. 1:14-15). This is “the lust of it” (v. 17b). In the same way, there is a proper use of this kosmo, and an improper one (I Cor. 7:31). In contrast to this pride in self, those who do “the will of God abides forever”(v. 17c). This was also Peter’s point when he wrote (quoting Is. 40:6-8), that our flesh is passing away, but those who are born again through the word, have a word that abides forever (I Pet. 1:22-25).

* The English Bible (Eg. NKJV) Words For ‘World(s)’.

When it comes to the topic of what our English bibles (N.T.) translate as ‘world’, one of the key places to go to is the Letter To The Hebrews. This letter is the most polished Greek in the N.T. There are three words which the writer uses for our word ‘world’. Immediately at the start of the letter we find this odd translation of ‘worlds’ (1:2), which is repeated again at 11:3, and these are the only two such occurrences of ‘worlds’. This writer can only surmise that the reason for this is that the usual translation of the Greek behind this word was not something that came readily to their minds. The word in both instances is ‘aion’. Everywhere else that this occurs it is translated as ‘age’ or ‘ages’. It makes sense to say ‘ages’, but it makes no sense to say worlds in the sense of kosmos, which is what they are trying to do with the word ‘worlds’.

Their difficulty seems to be that in 1:2 it would have to mean that the Son created the ages, but this is in fact what the author conveys. The Son created the ages in which the fathers merely spoke. The Son created history, which is what we learn in Genesis. This universal understanding of the word ‘aion’ is again born out by the context at the other occurrence, because at 11:3 he amplifies on and describes the ages in which these heroes of faith lived. In this case, he is drawing our attention to the reality that the Son made the ages, and in particular what we might call “salvation” or “redemptive history.” This is in fact how the word is translated (in the NKJV and others) in the two other occurrences of it at 6:5 and 9:26, the former in the singular and the latter in the plural as in 1:2 and 11:3.

9:26 is particularly interesting, because it also uses that other more common word for ‘world’, that being ‘kosmos’. Speaking of Jesus, and these words, he wrote that, “He (Christ) would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the kosmos; but now, once at the end of the ages (not worlds), He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.” His argument is that He only had to offer Himself up once for all, but is clear that these two words can not possibly be translated with the same English word. The kosmos is the whole of the created order, buts ‘aiov’ is an ‘age’ or ‘ages’ in the flow of history. However, the writer to the Hebrews has a third word which only occurs in his letter and once in Matthew’s gospel, and it has a clear distinction from that of the other two.

This third word is ‘oikoumenen’, which occurs at Hebrews 1:6, 2:5, and Matthew 24:14. This word means the whole inhabited earth. It is an expansion, as it were, of ‘oikos’, which refers to a dwelling, house, home, family, or temple. So in chapter one, after introducing the son as the creator of the ages in which the fathers spoke, and they spoke of Him, he then says that this same Son was brought into this inhabited earth. Furthermore it is this same inhabited earth that he is speaking about in the next chapter as well. “For He has not put the world (the inhabited earth-oikoumenen) to come, of which we speak, in subjection to angels” (2:5). Instead, the new inhabited earth will be in subjection to human beings, made as His image bearers. The context of Matthew 24:14 also bears out the understanding of this word.

** Love-Phileo And Agape.

 The N.T. contains a couple of Greek words that in English are translated as love. A good place to go is where we find more than one of these Greek words used in the same context. For example, this difference is brought out most significantly in a passage that concerns Peter, in John’s epistle. Near the end of his epistle, John records the following conversation with Peter. Jesus asked Peter if he had ‘agapas’ for him. Peter responds by saying he had ‘philo’ or brotherly love for him. Again Jesus asks Peter if he had agapas for him, and again Peter says that he had philo for him. Then after giving him an example of agapas, namely to shepherd his sheep, he then asks Peter if he had phileis for him. We then read that Peter is grieved by this, and he then says again, “you know I philo you” (v. 17). Agape love is something more than phileo.

Then in his first letter Peter uses both ‘philadelphian’ or brotherly love, and ‘agapesate’ at 1:22, and it also emphasizes this distinction. “Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love (philadelphian) of the brethren, love (agapesate) one another fervently with a pure heart. As Peter began the work of feeding Christ’s sheep, Peter came to understand what it meant to have ‘agapate’ for him (1:8). Agape involves sacrifice. He later says that we must have ‘agapesate’ for the brotherhood (2:17). Interestingly he also refers later to what appears to be a poem or hymnal abstract when he talked about those who ‘agapan’ life (3:10). Paul also made this point. “But concerning brotherly love you have no need that I should write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to ’agapen’one another” (I Th. 4:9).

There are more occurrences in John’s first letter than in any other book. When the apostle John wrote that we should not love the world (that is, the kosmos, or the whole created order), he uses the word agape. The reason we are not to agape the kosmos is because agape is reserved for our relationship with the Him. To agape the kosmos is to make an idol out of what the Creator has made. However, we are to have agape for his church, because it is agape that we share with Him. This ‘agape(s)’ is in Christ Jesus (I Tim. 1:14; II Tim. 1:13). ‘Agapev’ is what the man of God must pursue (6:11). ‘Agapes’ is what we have been given, along with power and self-control (II Tim. 1:7). Husbands are to have ‘agapate’ for their wives (Eph. 5:25), but wives are to ‘philandrous’ their husbands (Titus 2:4). Phileo is affection, agape is sacrifice.

John, in recording Jesus’ words to the church at Ephesus, criticizes them that they had left their first ‘agapev’ (2:4), and it is this ‘agapen’ that the church in Thyatira is commended for (3:19). Jude prays that ‘agapen’ along with mercy and peace, might be multiplied for his audience and us (Cf. II Jn. 3). He also exhorts them to keep themselves in this ‘agape’ (v. 21). Endurance and sacrifice is what James refers to in his reference to ‘agaposiv’ (1:12). This is also what characterizes the believer’s relationship to God (2:5). ‘Agapeseis’ also characterizes what we are to have for our neighbour (2:8). This also is emphasized by Paul in his letter to Philemon (vv. 5, 7). However, there are more occurrences of agape in John’s letters than the rest of the NT put together, not including its occurrence in Revelation and his gospel.

John’s references in his letters to agape begins with I Jn. 2:5 where the agape of God is perfected in those who keep his word. Agappate is what we are not to have for the kosmos (2:15). The agapen of the Father is seen in that we are called his children (3:1). Again, it is agapomen that we should have for one another in his family (3:11 Cf. vv. 14). He then gives the best definition and understanding of agapnv we will find. “By this we know agapnv, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (3:16 Cf. v. 17-18, 23; 4:7-12, 16-21; 5:2-3; II Jn. 1, 5-6; III Jn. 1). Agape is something only made possible among humanity, because God had agape for his people, seen most clearly in the sending and sacrifice of His Son.

Babes, Little Children, Young Men, And Fathers.

I John 2:12-14 Babes, Little Children, Young Men, And Fathers.

Ralph Venning, in his book ‘Learning in Christ’s School’, a phrase often used by the puritans, saw in these verses and others, a progression in spiritual development. This progression mirrors a person’s growth, though it is keyed to one’s spiritual growth, which isn’t necessarily equivalent to one’s chronological age. John does emphasize certain aspects appropriate to the level of spiritual progress, and it seems to be patterned after how one might progress in life. There is a progression from babes, to little children, to young men, and finally to fathers. It is a key point in discipleship and pastoral care that the message is adapted to an audience’s ability to understand, and to strengthen and build on what they already know.

John structures his words in two groups of threes, all in the same order. In both sets he begins with little children, but in verse 12 he uses the word ‘teknia,’ which actually refers to offspring, infants, or those just transitioning out of this state. However, in verse 13 he uses the word ‘paidia’, which refers to those beyond this transition. Paidia are young children in training.* When he speaks to the little children (teknia) in verse 12, he focuses on the basics of the faith, what John Murray called “the twin sisters” of repentance and faith, what we might call the milk of the word. These are little ones, whether literally or in terms of spiritual maturity, that they might know that their sins are forgiven “for His name’s sake” (v. 12).

However, in verse 13 he addresses those who are paidia, and for these who are transitioning from a state of teknia, he reminds them that they have “come to know” (‘The NKJV Greek English Interlinear New Testament’ p. 820) the Father. They have progressed beyond the basics of knowing that their sins are forgiven, they have grown further in their training, in that they have come to know the Father in a deeper way (Cf. Rom. 8:15-17; Gal. 4:6). From paidia we grow up to become young adults. The chief characteristic of young men in particular, is that they not only know the basics, and have further experiential knowledge of the Father, but they have been tempted by the devil and have overcome.

However, young men do not overcome on their own, anymore than one is born again as a tekna on one’s own, rather by God’s grace the word of God abides in them, and for this reason they are strong. Like their Master, they appeal to the word (Cf. Mt. 4:4; Lk. 4:4). “How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word” (Ps. 119:9). Finally, one’s goal must ultimately be to be a father or mother in the faith. These are those who are born again tekna, trained in Christ’s school as paidia, made strong through the word like young men, resisting the devil, until it can finally be said that they not only have come to know the Father, but they have come to know all that one can know about “the One who is from the beginning.”

Mothers and Fathers in the faith are true full-orbed theologians, those who have a broad doctrinal and practical knowledge of the Author of the sacred text. These know the works of God from beginning to end, as much as any human can know, as they have opportunity, and have come to see God’s providential hand in their own lives from beginning to end. In his conclusion of ‘Learning in Christ’s School’, Ralph Venning has but a page and a half devoted to those whom John calls Fathers, saying, “Of this state let days speak and multitude of years teach this wisdom (Job 32:7). I am but few of days and dare not give you my opinion (if I may borrow more of Elihu’s words) concerning this state beyond what I have now mentioned in general” (p. 268).

* Teknia And Paidia.

In the new testament there are two words that are both translated as children or little children-these are teknia and paidia. Teknia, tekna, and others of this kind, refers to offspring, infants, and young children transitioning from the former. Paidia, on the other hand, always refers to children in training. Matthew, Mark, and Luke, in their gospels, only refer to paidia (Mt. 2:16; 11:16; 14:21; 15:38; 18:3; 19:13; 21:15; Mk. 9:37; 10:13-14; Lk. 7:32; 11:7; 18:16), although Luke in Acts also refers to tekna (2:39; 13:33; 21:5, 21). However, the apostle John in his gospel does refer to both, and in doing so we can see the above distinction. The following refer to tekna or offspring (8:39; 11:52; 13:33), but 21:5 refers to paidia, children who could answer Jesus’ question.

In his letters, John also uses both words, and in doing so he makes this distinction even clearer. There are several references to teknia in these letters, and they all refer to the definition above (I Jn. 2:1, 12, 28; 3:7, 10, 18; 4:4; 5:2, 21; II Jn. 1, 4, 13; III Jn. 4), as also Revelation 2:23. However, where he does use paidia he uses it to make the above specific point-that it refers to further training (I Jn. 2:13 and 18). At 2:12 he refers to teknia, to those of his hearers and readers who have been introduced to the very basics of the faith, as it were-that their sins are forgiven them on account of his name. On the other hand, in the next verse he refers to paidia who have come to know the Father in a deeper way through their training. Similarly, what he says with regard to “the last our,” is also intended for those who are at least paidia.

Paul also makes this distinction. His use of paidia in I Corinthians 14:20 is a case in point. Paul did not want his audience to be immature or untrained in the renewing of their minds, as it were, but in the area of sin he did not want them to be trained or skilled in doing evil. When it comes to Paul’s use of teknia in this same letter, he says in 7:14 that infants (tekna) born to a believing parent are to be regarded as holy, a condition which is not dependent on the level of training, or paidia. This is also why Paul pleads with the Corinthians as teknois in II Corinthians 6:13, because he was writing to people for whom he was their spiritual father. He reiterates this use of tekna and teknois and the parent -infant or little child relationship in 12:14 (Cf. Col. 3:20-21; I Th. 2:7, 11; I Tim. 3:4, 12; 5:4, 10, 14; Titus 1:6).

Paul also refers to the Galatians as teknia, or those he has given birth to (4:19). He also refers to Hagar’s offspring as teknon (4:25), the tekna or offspring of the desolate woman (4:27). Whereas Isaac is the tekna of promise (4:28). Finally, Paul says that we are tekna or offspring of the free woman, and not paidiskeis (of padia), or trained to be children of the slave woman (4:31). Believers were once only tekna of wrath, but we have been made tekna of light, called (like infants do) to imitate God (Eph. 5:1, 8). When tekna is used of young children being trained there is always an accompanying word, an adjective in our English translation. So in Peter’s letters we are called to be “obedient tekna” (I Pet. 1:14), and not “accursed tekna, trained in covetous practices” (II Pet. 2:14).

Similarly, when Luke records Peter preaching at Pentecost, he records him as saying that the promise of the covenant is also to the offspring (teknois) of his hearers (2:39 Cf. 21:5, 21), and Paul regarded himself and the true followers of the Way, as the true offspring (teknois) of the Fathers (13:33). Also, the writer to the Hebrews speaks of us not as the offspring or tekna of Jesus, but as the Father’s paidia whom he has given to the Son. We are those, to use an expression familiar to the puritans, who are ‘Learning in Christ’s School’ (Ralph Venning, The Banner Of Truth Trust, 1999). It was in fact Venning’s thesis that the apostle John and others, employed the distinction between babes, young children, young men, and fathers, to refer to the progress we all make in our spiritual maturity or discipleship.

I John

I John 2:7-11 The Old Becomes New-Abiding In The Light.

Jesus was asked what is the greatest commandment and His answer went back to the law-to love God and neighbour-Dt. 6:5; Lev. 19:18 In this sense it is an old command (v. 7). However, Jesus also makes it new. John says that this command “is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining” (v. 8 Cf. 3:11, 23; Jn. 1:9; 8:12; 12:35; 13:34; 15:12). ‘alathes’ means it is true as in not concealed (Strong’s). So in Christ and his people, this command is seen in him and them in practice. This is what John means by the light shining. To say one is a believer, or living in the light, but hates a brother, is to actually be living in darkness-actions reveal the truth of one’s condition (v. 9 Cf. Jn. 12:36; I Cor. 13:2). This is what John meant by God’s love being perfected or reaching its completion in us (Cf. 2:5; 4:12).

This is also related to abiding, and the assurance that attends those who know that they abide in him. “He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him” (v. 10). “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death” (4:12). ‘skandalon’, the word translated as “cause for stumbling,” is where we get the word scandalous, also meaning a snare or trap. Therefore, if we love our brother, then there is nothing to cause us to doubt our confession, because we have grounds for our assurance that we abide in him. Those who hate the brethren have no such assurance or confidence that they abide in the Lord. Those who hate without repentance or acknowledging such sin, are in a darkness that blinds them to the truth (v. 11 Cf. 3:15; 4:20).

I John

I John 2:3-6 On The Road To Completion.

“We know that we know” is an interesting statement in the study of knowledge, or epistemology. For John, what one knows theologically, is more than a purely academic exercise. To know that one knows God, one’s conduct must reflect what one believes. Theology cannot be separated from ethics in the life of the individual’s experience. “Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments” (v. 3). John is crystal clear, if one’s conduct is contrary to God’s commandments then their confession otherwise is in question. Living contrary to the Lord’s commandments makes one’s confession a lie (v. 4 Cf. Rom. 3:4). From Joseph Fletcher’s ‘Situational Ethics’ filtered down to the person on the street, some have had the audacity to suggest that agape love sometimes sets aside the Lord’s commandments.

John stated something quite different. “Whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him” (v. 5 Cf. 4:12; Jn. 14:21-23). The word ‘’teteleiotai’ means “has been perfected” or “reached completion” (‘The NKJV Greek English Interlinear New Testament’ p. 819). This love of God has reached completion when we “walk just as He walked” (v. 6). Jesus’ love for His Father and others was demonstrated in His keeping His commandments (Mt. 5:17-20). We are not perfect. John has already made this clear (1:8-2:2). However, there is a goal-that His love would be perfected in us, seen in us in keeping His commandments. To abide in Christ and the Father and the Spirit, means we are on this road to completion (v. 6 Cf. Jn. 15:4). If we want to know if we truly love God and others, we need only reflect and look at whether we have an increasing fidelity to His word, in doctrine and practice.

I John

I John 2:1-2 We Have An Advocate-The Propitiation.

One of the reasons that John wrote his letter was so that his hearers and readers “may not sin” (v. 1a). However, as he previously noted, we all sin, “if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1:8). “If we say we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us” (1:10). So, if his word is in us, we will acknowledge our own sin. However, next to these two ‘ifs’ are two others. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1:9). Now John gives his fourth ‘if’ or second one admitting our condition, but finding in Jesus our advocate. “And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (v. 1b). The writer to the Hebrews reminded his audience, which includes us, that Jesus Christ, our High Priest, “always lives to make intercession” for us (7:25). He appears “in the presence of God for us” (9:24).

“We have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” “The Greek word ‘parakletos,’ a “helper,” such as an attorney in a legal matter. In the Gospel of John it is used of the Holy Spirit (John 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7). The word is not found elsewhere in the New Testament, although it is common in other literature” (NGSB p.1987). “And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins” (v. 2a). “A propitiation is a sacrifice to God meant to take away the enmity brought by sin between God and the worshiper. Only Christ can be an effective propitiation” (NGSB p.1987). One reason, the main reason, that Jesus Christ is the only possible propitiation, is because he is “the righteous.” Strong’s defines ‘dikaios’ as “‘equitable’ (in character or act); by impl. ‘innocent’, ‘holy’ (absol. Or rel.):-just, meet, right(-eous)” (Greek Dict. P. 23). He being innocent, i.e., without sin, was the only one who could appease God’s wrath for those who were guilty.

The word ‘hilasmos,’ propitiation, is an interesting word, packed full of a great deal of theology, and a word, in it’s various forms, that finds divergence in translation. It is true that as a noun it only occurs in this letter, here and at 4:10. However, as a cognate noun and verb it does occur elsewhere, emphasizing the same truth. “The basic idea (though some interpreters disagree) is to appease wrath for an offense by means of sacrificial atonement. Thus Jesus satisfied the requirements of God’s justice, His wrath, by giving Himself for our sins. Cf. the cognate noun ‘hilasterion’, that which expiates or propitiates (Rom 3:25), and the place of expiation or propitiation, the mercy seat (Heb. 9:5); and verb ‘hilaskomai’, expiate, propitiate, at Luke 18:13.” (The NKJV Greek English Interlinear New Testament p.826) It is puzzling that the KJV does not translate ‘hilaskesthhai’ in Hebrews 2:17 as “to make propitiation,” as does the NKJV, which the ESV even translates as the NKJV.

For some reason the KJV translated Hebrews 2:17 as “to make reconciliation.” However, reconciliation is secondary. Reconciliation is only made possible because Jesus Christ, our great High Priest, Himself was made our propitiation to appease God’s wrath. Until the sacrifice of the Lamb of God was made on the propitiatory or mercy seat (Heb. 9:5), there was no basis for reconciliation. As also noted with the above quote from The NKJV-GEINT, there is plenty of support for the position that this writer holds, that not only should Hebrews 2:17 be translated as above, but so also 9:5 (again , as above), and Luke 18:13. The latter would then read as follows:-“God, be propitiated to me a sinner!” The fact that Luke records the tax collector as saying this, shows that this was not a word only comprehended by the scholarly class at the time, much less today. As the Lord went on to say, because this tax collector asked for God to be propitiated on his behalf, he was declared as being justified (Lk. 18:14).

Those who are guilty, are all those born into this world. What John indicated for his audience also includes those who would come after, and not for their location or race only, but for the whole world. “And not for ours only but also for the whole world” (v. 2b). This reiterates what John the Baptist said, and John the apostle wrote and recorded at the dawn of Jesus ministry. “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (1:29)!” Our High Priest made “propitiation for the sins of the people” (Heb. 2:17b), because the blood of his covenant was offered on the propitiatory, the mercy seat, the covering (Heb. 9:5). As noted from the account of the tax collector in Luke, when God is propitiated, the sinner is justified, and this is what Paul also summarized. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith” (Rom. 3:23-25).

I John

I John 1:5-10 Looking Closely-Fellowship Through The Blood.

John noted that they heard, saw, and handled the Word. However, it seems that he wanted to say more than that they saw Jesus, because he adds that they also “looked upon” the Word. If he intended to simply say that they saw Jesus, why would he add that they “looked upon” him (v. 1)? Strong’s defines the word ‘theaomai’ as more than just seeing, but rather “to look closely at, i.e. (by impl.) to perceive (lit. or fig.)” (p. 36 Greek Dictionary). Many saw Jesus who did not to look closely at him, at least not to the level of perceiving who he really was and is-the Word of life, and Life himself manifested. As he now progresses in his letter, John wants his hearers and readers to look closely at the Son that they might perceive everything they need and ought to know about him and his message.

Many say they are Christians, and some even proclaim the “Christian” faith, who do not look closely at what we find here in these verses. The first thing that John notes is that if one looks closely at the Son and what he taught one will learn that “God is light and in Him is no darkness at all” (v. 5 Cf. 2:9-11). As he also indicated earlier, the goal is to have fellowship with the Father and the Son. However, one cannot enjoy this fellowship if one walks in darkness (v. 6a Cf. I Tim. 6:16). Therefore, anyone who says that they have fellowship with God and yet walks in darkness, is lying and not practicing the truth. Secondly, and connected with the above point, one does not have fellowship with God, nor indeed is one looking closely to the point of perceiving the Son aright, if one does not also practice the truth (v. 6b).

We must be walking in the light, i.e., practicing the truth, if we can truly be assured that we have fellowship with God (Cf. Is. 2:5). However, part of this truth is that we are all still sinners. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (v. 8). Something had to be done about sin in us if we were to have fellowship with God. To this end John declares that “the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (v. 7). One of the things about indwelling sin that we ironically forget, is that we have a great capacity to deceive ourselves. We are our own worst enemies. It is a sometimes painful and difficult task to examine ourselves to see if we are simply deceiving ourselves, and our brothers and sisters can help us in this examination.

Lying comes from darkness, and it is the light of truth which alone can dispel it. Furthermore, there is no life where there is darkness. “For with You is the fountain of life; in Your light we see light” (Ps. 36:9). It is the light of God’s word alone which can shed light upon our self-deception. However, worse than self-deception, is that if we say we have no sin, then we are calling God a liar. “If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us” (v. 10). There can be only one answer to this assessment and charge against us-it is true and we need help. First we must confess that God is right, we are sinners. Secondly, the only thing that will help is the blood of Jesus Christ. Thirdly, on the basis of Christ’s shed blood, the Father “is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (v. 9 Cf. Rom. 3:23-25).