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Archive for April 11th, 2012

The Epistles of John: Living in Truth and Love. 1 John 2:23b-27

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012 by Elgin Hushbeck

Week 25: Mar 25, 2012

Having defined who cannot be trusted, i.e. those who deny the person and work of Jesus, John now contrast them with those who confess.


f. Why John Writes (2:21-27)

ii. Those who deny are the liars (2:22-23)

1. Those who confess have the son and the father.

23b – The person who acknowledges the Son also has the Father.

– This is said in contrast with the previous part of the verse. Where they were “The Denying” (ἀρνούμενος) Here is he refers to those who acknowledge or “the confessing” (ὁμολογῶν). The true Christians are those who acknowledge the person, nature and work of the Son.

i. You remain in him (2:24-25)

24 – What you have heard from the beginning must abide in you. If what you have heard from the beginning abides in you, you will also abide in the Son and in the Father.

– John now switches to a focus on his reader. This is shown by the emphasis on the word “you” by fronting (moving it to the front of the sentence) and repetition. Literally this verse starts with “You what [you] have heard,” (ὑμεῖς ὁ ἠκούσατε) . The word you (ὑμεῖς) is not strictly needed because it is already indicated by the ending (-τε) of “have heard” (ἠκούσατε). With the “you” at the end of the sentence that makes 3 occurances – Two explicit and 1 as part of the “you have heard” This repetition is used to empathizes that John dealing with abstract concepts, but is now talking directly to is readers.

– Since the focus in on them, the “What you have heard from the beginning” is almost certainly the teachings they have heard since becoming a Christian and which was stressed at the opening of the letters, i.e., the New Testament. This teaching must define our Christian walk, and this is what we must abide in. It is not coincidental that a large part of the New Testament is setting forth and defending doctrine. Later writers traced the origins of Gnosticism back to Simon Magnus in Acts 8:9-24 which records events that occurred in mid 30s.

abides in you… abide in the Son and in the Father.

– John emphasizes the importance of abiding in this teaching by equating this with being in the Son and Father. Again the purpose is not just to follow the rules, but to be in fellowship with God. Note the reversal of the normal order of father and son. The Son is being emphasized. This also is to identify the “he” in the next verse.

1. You have the promise of eternal life

25 – The message that the Son [1] himself declared to us is eternal life.

– Many translations have promise for the word message (ἐπαγγελία). John only uses this word here. Elsewhere it is used to refer to OT prophecies that have already been fulfilled, or are certain to be fulfilled. So there is a sense that this is more than just a promise – it is a done deal. The message is eternal live. There is a sequence over the last 3 verses:

– Confession – Having – Remaining – Eternal Life

ii. Summary (2:26-27)

26 – I have written[2] to you about those who are trying to deceive you.

– This marks the end of an inclusio that started in verse 21. An inclusion is a literary device used to mark off sections, sort of like bookends. While verse 21 focused on his readers and how they knew the truth, this part contrasts the truth that they know with the falsehoods of those spreading false teachings.

27* – The anointing you received from Him[3] abides in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you.[4] Instead, because His[5] anointing teaches you about everything and is true and not a lie, abide in him, as he taught you to do.[6]

– Just as the previous verse was an inclusio with verse 21, this verse is also an inclusio with verse 20. Thus we have:

20 You have an anointing from the Holy One and know all things

21 I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it

26 I have written to you about those who are trying to deceive you.

27 The anointing you received from Him abides in you

Thus as John marks of the ending of this section he is again telling his readers that his criticisms of his opponents does not apply to them.

and you do not need anyone to teach you.

At first blush there is a bit of a paradox here: John is teaching them that they need no teachers. However the context helps us understand this. The context is of false teachers spreading what appears to be a proto-Gnosticism. Gnosticism was based on secret teachings revealed by a teacher and John is simply pointing out that he is teaching nothing new (or secret). This is what the Holy Spirit teaches everyone. So there is really no paradox, John is simply saying that there is no reason to look to false teachers.

Instead… abide in him

Instead of seeking after false teacher stay in the truth. John now backs this up with three reasons:

a. His anointing teaches you about everything

The anointing (Holy Spirit + word of God) will teach us. Not literally everything, but everything we need to walk in the truth.

b. and is true and not a lie

What the Holy Spirit teaches is the truth, the deceiver teaches lies.

c. as he taught you to do.

This is what Jesus wants.

If you have question or comments about the class, feel free to send me an email at elgin@hushbeck.com 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. 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.


[1] 2:25 Lit. that he
[2] 2:26 Lit. written these things
[3] 2:27 ISV God
[4] 2:27 ISV adds this
[5] 2:27 ISV God’s
[6] 2:27 The Gk. lacks to do