March 2012


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Archive for March 7th, 2012

The Epistles of John: Living in Truth and Love. 1 John 2:16-2:18a

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012 by Elgin Hushbeck

Week 21: Feb 26, 2012

We left off last time in the middle of John’s commandment to believers not to love the world. In verse 16 John expands on what he means with this commandment.


d. Our Position (2:12-17)

ii Warning: Do not love the world (2:15-17)

16 – For everything that is in the world—the desire for fleshly gratification,[1] the desire for possessions,[2] and worldly arrogance—is not from the Father but is from the world.

John now goes on to explain what he means by not loving the world with three examples. The first two of these are marked by the word desire (επιθυμια), which refers to a strong impulse or desire (Freberg). The word is not inherently negative as it is used here, it is neutral. It can just as equally refer to a desire to do good as it does in Heb 6:11, But we want (επιθυμουμεν)each of you to continue to be diligent to the very end, in order to give full assurance to your hope.

for fleshly gratification

The first clause is literally: The desire of the flesh. It can refer to sexual desire, but could be anything the flesh desires. The Jewish sense of this concept was for desires that focused on the self. It is putting yourself and your wants first.

As a side note: This is one of the reasons works cannot earn Salvation. Working to earn salvation is grounded in a desire for self, i.e., to earn salvation. You are working to earn benefits for yourself. Such works cannot please God. Works that are pleasing to God come from Love, love of God and Love of others, whereas working to earn salvation is grounded in love of self.

for possessions

The second clause is literally: of the eye. It refers to a desire caused by what one sees and is ultimately desire for things: See it – Want it. The problem is that it puts things ahead of people.

worldly arrogance (η αλαζονεια του βιου)

The third clause is literally: false pride of life. It refers to a false pride (αλαζονεια) or arrogance that is unfounded, taking a false or exaggerated sense of pride. This is not, for example, taking pride in your work. Here the pride refers to a false pride of life, or the things of life. It is a pride that forgets that everything we have comes from God. (1 Cor 11:12) If we are boasting about how good we are, how smart we are, how good our house is, or about just about anything, without recognizing that fact, we have a false pride of life.

As noted last week, verses 15 and 16 need to be read together. The focus of these two verses is not so much on these things per se, but on the love of these things. We may have desire for fleshly gratification or possessions, or worldly arrogance, but what is our attitude about it? While this may at first seem strange, consider what Paul said in Rom 7:15 I don’t understand what I am doing. For I don’t practice what I want to do, but instead do what I hate. We might not be able to always control that we have improper desires, but we can control if we love them. We can choose to be like Paul, we can hate what we do, and strive to follow God, even if we fail from time to time.

17 – And the world and its desires are fading away, but the person who does God’s will remains forever.

John now gives another reason why we should not love the things of the world. This world is temporary, while God is forever. If we are going to love something, we should love that which will last.

e. Their Position (2:18-27)

i. Antichrists a sign of the time (2:18)

18 – Little children, it is the last hour. Just as you heard that an antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have appeared. This is how we know it is the last hour.

Little children, here this phrase marks a change of thought. Having made our position clear, John now turns to the position of his opponents.

it is the last hour

This is the only place this phrase occurs in the NT and this raises the question of what does John mean by it is the last hour (εσχατη ωρα εστιν)

Option A: This is the final period of History, i.e., from the ascension to the second coming. John 4:23a Yet the time is coming, and is now here, when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth. This phrase is thus similar to the phase “the last days” such as in Heb 1:2a has in these last days spoken to us by a Son

Option B: This is the final part (hour) of the last days, i.e., John is saying that they are very near the tribulation. According to Marshall this is the position held by most commentators. It is hard, but not impossible, to reconcile this view with the fact that it is now 2011, and this “hour” has lasted over 2000 years. John’s view can be seen as expressing the idea that Christ could come at any time. Or it is possible that John had a different view of time, a view of time that any time after the ascension is the final hour.

Option C: The phrase is referring to a quality of the current age as opposed to a time period. Along these lines it should be noted that there is no definite article (the) in the Greek text, and this could also be translated as: It is a last hour, an age marked by anticipation by Christians, and rebellion by the world.

Before we can make a decision concerning what John meant we need to look at the how John expands on this in the latter part of the verse and that is where we will pick next week.


If you have question or comments about the class, feel free to send me an email at and be sure to put “Epistles of John” in the header.

See here for references and more background on the class.

Scripture taken from the Holy Bible: International Standard Version®. Copyright © 1996-2008 by The ISV Foundation. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED INTERNATIONALLY. Used by permission.

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.


[1] 2:16 Lit. for the flesh

[2] 2:16 Lit. of the eyes