Week 18: Jan 29, 2012
– Last time we saw how John was emphasizing that to love God was to Obey God’s commandments. This naturally raises the question which commandment are we to keep? Starting in verse 2:7 John answers this question.
a. Expansion: Love One Another (2:7:11)
i. The commandment to Love (2:7-8)
7 – Dear friends, I am not writing to you a new commandment, but an old commandment that you have had from the beginning. This old commandment is the word you have heard.
- Marks another change of thought, this time an expansion on the commandments of God.
new commandment…but an old commandment…
Here John may be dealing with a charge from his opponents, i.e., that they had some new commandment or he may just be stressing that his message is grounded in the teachings of Jesus. Note change from verse 3 from plural(commandments) to singular(commandment) here. Commandment sums up the teaching of Jesus. Here it refers to living in the light as he himself is in the light (1:7) Which John is defining as living in truth and love. This is very similar to :
2 John 5 Dear lady, I am now requesting of you that we all continue to love one another. It is not as though I am writing to give you a new commandment, but one that we have had from the beginning.
John 13:34 I am giving you a new commandment to love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.
from the beginning
- Commandment was new when Jesus gave it. But this could also refer to the teaching of OT as well.
This old commandment is the word you have heard
- This is what they have been taught since they came to Christ. John is stressing the continuity of the faith. This was the teaching of Jesus, handed down to the Apostles (see the prologue v 1:1-4) and taught to them.
8 – On the other hand, I am writing to you a new commandment that is truly in him and in you. For the darkness is fading away, and the true light is already shining.
- Yet, while an old teaching there is a sense in which it is new. It is new in the sense that it is in Jesus and in us. While the teaching is nothing new, and in fact is old, the way that the teaching works itself out in our lives is new. As 1 Cor 5:17 puts it: Therefore, if anyone is in the Messiah, he is a new creation. Old things have disappeared, and—look!—all things have become new!
For the darkness is fading away, and the true light is already shining.
- This is more than a distant hope. The transforming nature of Christ’s teaching can already be seen. John is not arguing just from abstract theology, but from the real impact Jesus had on people’s lives, and the way that it transformed them, and us. The message of the Jesus is nothing, if it has no effect. This is why obedience is so important. Jesus’ teachings are not some secret that is hidden away, as the Gnostics claim, it is to be proclaimed and demonstrated in our lives.
If you have question or comments about the class, feel free to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and be sure to put “Epistles of John” in the header.
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible: International Standard Version®. Copyright © 1996-2008 by The ISV Foundation. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED INTERNATIONALLY. Used by permission. www.isv.org
Note: Some places I have modify the text from the ISV version. Passages that I have modified have been noted with and * by the verse number and the ISV text is included in a footnote.