At the time of writing his letter, John is a very old man. He addresses the reader has his children which reflects his advancing years but also a term of endearment. He was apparently over 80 years old by this time.
He wants to encourage the reader not to sin, but we have Christ interceding on our behalf to the Father if we do – it is through Christ only that we can be forgiven. The term used to describe Christ interceding is the same word used for advocacy. Christ “presents our case” before God as someone would defend in court. Christ has atoned for the sins of everyone but this does not that everyone will be saved. God is impartial in that the gift of salvation is not dependent on race or nationality but on our acceptance of Christ’s redemption. Christ’s defence of us in the court of God’s judgement is that we have believed and trusted in him.
Evidence of those who are true believers is shown by whether they obey God’s commands. If we say that we know God but do not obey his commands he says that the truth is not in us but those who do obey are being made perfect.
Now that Christ has been revealed as the true light, the darkness is driven away (see v8). If we say that we are in the light but do not show love, then we are walking in darkness, we are blind and do not know where we are going. If we love our brothers and sisters then we will not do anything that would cause them to sin either.
Do not love the world or anything that belongs to the world. If you love the world, you do not love the Father. Everything that belongs to the world – what the sinful self desires, what people see and want, and everything in this world that people are so proud of – none of this comes from the Father, it all comes from the world. The word and everything in it that people desire is passing away, but those who do the will of God live for ever (v 15 to 17)
Again we touch on the subject of false teachers and people who have “left the faith”, “Enemies of Christ”. John says that they did not really belong with us which is why they left – they would have stayed otherwise. In some translations they are referred to as anti-christs -if they are not for him then they are against him. They are described in verses 22-23;
- they deny that Jesus is the Messiah
- they reject and deny the Father – that Jesus is God’s Son
- the do not have the Father as they do not have the Son
- they are liars
- there are many of them (v18)
- they did not belong with the fellowship of believers and so left (v19)
Those who reject Jesus Christ as God’s son, also reject God the Father; but those who do accept him accept the Father also and know the truth.
But we must keep this truth in our hearts.
Be sure then to keep in your hearts the message you heard from the beginning. If you keep that message, then you will always live in union with the Son and with the Father (v24)
Christ has poured out his Spirit on us and his Spirit teaches us the truth. If we obey his teaching then we can remain in union with him and be ready to meet him on that Day when he comes. It is the work of the Holy Spirit that teaches us as we read and study God’s word. There are no “new” revelations or “secrets” or “special knowledge” as claimed by those that were trying to deceive the early Christians. It is all there in God’s word and he gives us the ability to appreciate it and believe, as we trust God for the fulfillment of his promises.
Quotes from the Good News Bible