Truth Proclaimed, Love Commanded, Antichrists Rejected (1 John 1:5-2:27)
The Parallel Outline of First John
A 1:1–4 — Prologue — Eternal Life Manifested
B 1:5–2:2 —The Truth Proclaimed
C 2:3–17 — The Love Commandment
D 2:18–27 — Antichrists Deny Jesus is the Christ
E 2:28–3:10 — Confidence as Children of God
F 3:11–18 — The Message: Sacrificial Love
E’ 3:19–24 — Confidence in God’s Presence
D’ 4:1–6 — Antichrists Deny Christ Came in the Flesh
C’ 4:7–5:5 — The Love Example
B’ 5:6–12 — The Testimony Received
A’ 5:13–21 — Conclusion — Eternal Life Assured (adapted from Thomas/NAC)
The Truth Proclaimed (1:5-2:2) - This is the message (angelia): God is light. Think creation light (Gen. 1) and the glory-cloud in the Exodus. Christ has come; the darkness of the old covenant is giving way to a new creation (Jn. 1:5; 2Co. 4:6). “To walk in the light is to walk according to the future light of the new creation, the new creation that has already begun in the incarnation of the Word of Life” (Leithart). In John, “light is a source of life; when light is revealed, it reveals life” (NAC). The “if” clauses (vv 6-10) show errors of the false teachers. “The first claim of the schismatics is to have fellowship with God; yet at the same time they walk in the darkness” (NIBC). Light leads to acknowledging, rather than denying sin. Feel John’s pastoral care here: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (v9). The source of our assurance is that “we have an Advocate” and that Jesus is our “propitiation,” (hilasmos) which covers and removes our sin (2:1-2).
The Love Commanded (2:3-17) - The book is centered on love (3:11-18); it is “the primary commandment” (Eerdmans). If we know Him, love is maturing us in obedience. Obedience is “not a condition but rather a sign of knowing God” (Hermeneia). If we love one another, we are abiding in the Light. The “new command” “belongs to the new age which has been ushered in by the shining of the true light” (Stott). If we are abiding in knowing Him (through the apostolic message), we are forgiven, faithful, and overcome. “Children, fathers, young men” (2:12) can “be forgiven, know, and overcome” as we abide in the will of God and not love the world. Worldliness is “spelled out by John in a memorable triad: ‘the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does’” (EBC). “With these three things compare the three things that led Eve to disobey God (Gn. 3:6.)” (Morris). This “world” is passing away, but those who do the will of the Father live forever (2:17).
Antichrists Rejected (2:18-27) - “Christ” means “anointed.” “Antichrist” is John’s name for those who falsely claim the truth while not abiding in the apostolic message (1:1-3, 2:18, 22, 4:3; 2Jn. 7), just as was predicted by the true Christ (Mt. 24:5). Literally, “They went out of us, but they were not out of us” (2:19). Who are these? “On the surface, this looks like the sort of denial a non-Christian Jew would make, not a Christian . . . [in any case they denied] that Jesus Christ is the Messiah, God’s Son, come in the flesh and whose death was real and vicarious (4:2–3, 15; 5:1, 6–8) (Pillar). John explains that the faithful have an “anointing” (chrisma), which “is another way of saying that all have received the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Morris). Anointing is a form of installation into office, thus the priesthood of all believers (Ps. 2:2; Ex. 40:13; 1Sam. 2:10; 1Kg 19:16 - ultimately “Messiah” Lk 4:18). Therefore, we must abide through power of the Spirit in the Word of Life.
Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as receive a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more