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1 John;- The old and new command

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posted on Jul, 7 2017 @ 05:01 PM
When John writes his first epistle, he is not, like Paul, addressing himself to a specific church under particular circumstances.
He writes, on behalf of himself and his fellow teachers, to anyone in the Christian body who will take his advice. Though his first readers were probably in Ephesus and that region of Asia Minor.
His purpose is to teach these Christians, or remind them, that they are dwelling in God, through Christ, and to show them how this knowledge should be affecting their conduct.

His pastoral attitude towards his readers is reflected in the different ways that he addresses them.
For example, in the opening portion of the second chapter he calls them “little children” [TEKNIA].
Later in the chapter he will be calling them “little ones” [PAIDIA].
The first thought is about kinship, the second is about their need for protection.

In the first chapter, John was establishing the importance of this fellowship with God.
The main point was that God is light, and therefore we need to be “walking in the light”, in order to maintain our place in him.

He explains to them now that his purpose in writing the letter is “that you may not sin” (ch2 v1).
And if anyone should sin? We have an “advocate” in the presence of the Father, in the person of Jesus Christ himself.
This is the same word that is used in the final discourse of the gospel, when Jesus promises to send the Holy Spirit and calls him “another advocate” (John ch14 v16).
It serves the same purpose as the explanation in Hebrews, which portrays Christ in heaven as an interceding priest.
Though these are different images, the underlying teaching is the same.
That is, the courtroom advocate and the heavenly priest are alternative ways of depicting the continuing work of the living Christ, mediating between ourselves and the Father.

Christ is qualified to act as our advocate because he is “the righteous”, the one who has lived in accordance with God’s will.
John elaborates this point in the next verse by calling him the “expiation” for our sins.
This translates the word HILASMOS,which is normally used to describe the act of offering sacrifice to deal with the fault of sin.
In older translations and liturgies, the word was rendered as “propitiation”.
Despite looking up the definitions of propitiation and expiation, I really struggle to understand what the difference is supposed to be.
It seems to come down to the fact that the word “propitiate” has entered into common use, acquiring overtones of “appeasement of anger”. Modern theology thinks those overtones are inappropriate.
Whereas the word “expiate” has never entered into common speech at all, which leaves it more “neutral” and free from unwelcome associations.

Either way, it serves as a convenient one-word summary of the teaching that our sin is no longer, thanks to the death of Christ, obstructing our relationship with God.
This is also done “for the whole world”. In other words, the benefit is available and on offer to everyone, in principle (though the Calvinists balk at this conclusion).

An Arabian proverb says that “he who knows, and knows that he knows, is wise…”
We receive the benefits of the advocacy of Christ when we know him, when we belong to him.
But how can we know that we know him?
John says we may know with certainty that we have come to a knowledge of Christ “by this”; viz. the fact that we keep his commandments (v3).
Therefore anyone who disobeys his commandments, and yet claims to know him, “is a liar and the truth is not in him” (v4). That is the same judgement which the first chapter passed on those who walk in darkness, away from God’s light.
The better option is to be the one who “keeps his word”- that is, his commandments as they have been revealed. It can truly be said that God’s love has been made perfect in such a person (v5)
The RSV says “love for God”, but the phrase “the love of God” really means (according to Westcott) the love which is characteristic of him, and which we learn from him.

Putting it another way, we may know that we abide in Christ “by this”;
Namely, by walking in the same way that he walked- as anyone who makes that claim ought to be doing (v6)
In other words, having fellowship with Christ means living in harmony with his nature.

But what is this commandment, what is this “word”, which we need to be keeping?
John addresses his readers as “beloved” (which may be a clue), and tells them that what he is writing is not a new commandment, but an old one (v7).
It is “old” in the sense that it goes right back to the beginning of the gospel preaching. It is not something that John himself has just devised.
At the same time, it is also a new commandment (v8).
It is new in the sense that the gospel itself is a new development. The gospel has changed the world, in that the old darkness is passing away and the new light is shining. The new commandment is one aspect of this new gospel. It’s all in “the word” of Christ.
But John does not specify the content of this new commandment.
He seems to assume that his readers will recognise the words of Jesus quoted in the gospel;
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another” – John ch13 v34

This commandment accompanied the light of the gospel.
Therefore anyone who fails to love his brother, anyone who hates his brother, still walks in darkness (v9).
And we know from the first chapter that those who walk in the darkness rather than the light do not know God.
If we are out of fellowship with those who are in fellowship with God, if we are not part of that goup, then we cannot be in fellowship with God himself.
So our love towards the brethren is the test that confirms whether we truly belong to God.

The image of “walking” in the darkness or in the light suggests the possibility of “stumbling” (vv10-11).
We have a choice.
If we know God’s love, which must include loving the brethren, then we are walking “in the light”, and the danger of stumbling does not arise.
But the man who continues walking in darkness will be so blinded that he cannot see where he is going.
And he will certainly be moving away from God, ready to trip over any obstacles.

Part of the message of the first chapter was that “abiding in God” demands also an “abiding in Christ”.
We are now beginning to discover what will be a major theme of this letter, that abiding in Christ involves abiding in fellowship with those who belong to Christ.

posted on Jul, 7 2017 @ 05:02 PM
The wording of the opening post is my own, but the commentary of B.F. Westcott has been an essential guide to the meaning of the text.

posted on Jul, 7 2017 @ 05:03 PM
Jerome tells the story that when John was a very old man, he could only get to church meetings by being carried there in the arms of disciples. When he got there, his custom was to say no more than “Little children, love one another!" After a time, the disciples wearied at always hearing the same words, asked, "Master, why do you always say this?" His reply came; "It was the Lord's command, and if that is done, it is sufficient”.

posted on Jul, 7 2017 @ 05:04 PM
For me, the first verse of this chapter resonates with childhood memories.
Our church provided little fawn-coloured booklets to help children follow the service. The catch was that each week Father Turnbull (this was a “high church” parish) would go off on his own tangent at some point, and the booklet would lose contact with what he was doing. He may have left something out or added something or just changed the order of things.
This confusion would last until he delivered the line “Hear also what St. John saith; ‘If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father…’”.
I knew where I was then, because those words were clearly visible at the top of an even-numbered page. We were back on track.

posted on Jul, 7 2017 @ 05:30 PM
a reply to: DISRAELI

Good post S&F

Sadly this seems directed specifically, and only towards "church goers" which is an issue with myself...

Generally speaking the gospels entire theme was about Love and how to act in love towards your fellow man

Personally i believe when Jesus said he came to fulfill the law, he was not speaking of the laws of Old times, but said "new commandment"... the royal law... which still stands to this day unlike the laws of old

If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well

posted on Jul, 7 2017 @ 05:33 PM
a reply to: Akragon
Well, I'm summarising John, and John is addressing "church-goers".
Yes, "royal law" is the expression found in James, but I have a theory that James was really trying to say "the Kingdom's law", being obliged to coin a new phrase to express what he meant.

posted on Jul, 7 2017 @ 05:38 PM
a reply to: DISRAELI

basically the law of love... which shouldn't just be expressed to those in ones congregation

posted on Jul, 7 2017 @ 05:45 PM
a reply to: Akragon
Fair enough, "love the brethren" is a minimum, not a maximum need.
But the theme of this letter is advising Christians how to stay close to God, and if you follow the logic outlined in the last three paragraphs of the OP, there is a particular reason why "loving the brethren" should be an essential factor.
Briefly, that God and the brethren are "in fellowship", close together in the same group.
So if one is not close to the brethren, one is not part of that group- which means not being close to God either.

John is limiting himself to what is relevant to his topic.

edit on 7-7-2017 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)

posted on Jul, 7 2017 @ 05:52 PM
a reply to: DISRAELI

Perhaps... that does seem to be the theme of the chapter

yet im compelled to wonder, what IF one doesn't not have a "brethren" or fellowship with any group?

Should they be excluded from knowing God? Or even being close to him?

again it just seems to be a very elitist message... IF you're not part of the group (church) you have no part in the love of God... which the gospels disagree with anyways

posted on Jul, 7 2017 @ 06:04 PM
a reply to: Akragon
The teaching is that each individual is close to God or not- in the light or in the darkness.
Those who are close to God constitute a group. If a large number of people are close to a central figure, they are necessarily close to each other at the same time.
John is saying that failing to love the brethren is evidence of not being close to God (rather than the cause).

The other major theme of this letter, already announced in the previous chapter, will be that belonging to God is dependent on belonging to Christ. If you're going to regard that as "elitist", that's tough- it's the New Testament teaching, all the same.
And in this case, you don't have your usual excuse for disregarding unwelcome evidence. The letter isn't coming from Paul.

posted on Jul, 7 2017 @ 06:12 PM
a reply to: DISRAELI

lol... Paul has nothing to do with the issue...

IF one belongs to Christ... or even follows him, they do as he asked of them... its as simple as that, no group required.. or church for that matter

IF you recall this passage...

And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all.

36 And he took a child, and set him in the midst of them: and when he had taken him in his arms, he said unto them,

37 Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me.

38 And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us.

39 But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me.

40 For he that is not against us is on our part

posted on Jul, 7 2017 @ 06:28 PM
a reply to: Akragon
Both parts of that passage are talking about "belonging to Christ".
The child in the first section represents "the little ones who believe in me"- that is, the disciples of Jesus. I've done a thread on that topic. The message is that the disciples of Jesus should be accepted as representative of Jesus himself. In other words, there is a close bond between Jesus and those who belong to him. I'm not sure how this conflicts with what John is saying.

The point at the end is that this includes anyone doing miracles "in my name". If he is doing it in the name of Jesus, then he belongs to Jesus (even if he has not been part of their specific group), and should be accepted on that basis. Again, I'm not sure how this conflicts with what John is saying.

The gospel passage is saying "If you belong to Jesus, you should love those who belong to Jesus".
John is saying "If you belong to God, which necessarily entails belonging to Jesus, then you should love those who also belong".
It seems to me that those two statements amount to the same thing.

posted on Jul, 7 2017 @ 06:42 PM
a reply to: DISRAELI

You are correct... though again this takes me back to what i've said earlier

not being part of the group always is an issue in Christianity in general, and even leads back to the time of Jesus as you can clearly see... John and his people would have no part in other people that weren't part of their clique

Jesus had to straighten them out... and in my experience with Christians in general (not all) IF you're not part of their sect, they will have no part with you... sure they will welcome others to join but when rejected they prefer to go on the attack it seems

SO... this is just my own issue i suppose, from my experiences... Love is not abundant in church folk... only for their own kind... which has always been my biggest issue with said religion

Remember Jesus said "IF you love those that love you, what reward do you have"

In any case i apologize for derailing your thread

Good post

posted on Jul, 7 2017 @ 06:48 PM
a reply to: Akragon
In other words, Christians in general are not sufficiently regarding the warning in John's message. Granted.
John is telling his readers of the need to love the brethren in general. If they are loving only a more limited social group, they are falling far short of that. The implication, which I accept, is that Christians in general are not as close to God as they ought to be.

posted on Jul, 7 2017 @ 07:32 PM
its about being good.
its showing you have a choice and advising good as its better.
its teaching.
its advising good over bad

we are stuck on how people taught others rather than passing the message on.

i mean do you tell someone jesus is coming back to save them or that they should be good and that things dont come back from dead but the past can infulence the future.

posted on Jul, 7 2017 @ 07:38 PM
i am happy that you see that people were passing a message on but please you must "hear" the messages.

be good. help others. stop being bad. dont be tempted. have fun best you can?

are these messages ingrained into the fabrics of our universe of fabricated by our history?

posted on Jul, 7 2017 @ 08:10 PM
a reply to: Akragon

I think you are going out of your way to chastise church fellowships and missing the forest for the trees.

Recall that Christ Himself was always in the company of His disciples and always ministering to the crowds. He was never exactly a single, isolated believer off living the existence of a hermit.

posted on Jul, 7 2017 @ 08:40 PM

originally posted by: ketsuko
a reply to: Akragon

I think you are going out of your way to chastise church fellowships and missing the forest for the trees.

Recall that Christ Himself was always in the company of His disciples and always ministering to the crowds. He was never exactly a single, isolated believer off living the existence of a hermit.

again this is just my experience with said people of Christian churches

Personally i've found no value what so ever in happenings of organized religious circles

but thats me... to each their own

posted on Jul, 7 2017 @ 09:23 PM
a reply to: Akragon

The point of the post was partially to walk like Christ, and I am pointing out that Christ was always in fellowship with others who were striving to walk like Him.

Do you think it possible to always keep yourself apart and still walk like Christ and share you love with others who are also doing the same if you shun them?

posted on Jul, 7 2017 @ 09:28 PM
a reply to: ketsuko

Jesus was quite the exception wouldn't you say?

Not only is it very possible... its very easy to walk your path alone... Not being influenced by others, especially those in religious circles

I don't shun them, again as i've said... to each their own

IF one finds comfort in churches feel free... though again, as Jesus said, and i reiterated earlier, what reward do you have if you love those that love you?

I use his teaching with every person i meet... no religious affiliation required

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