Thirdmill Study Bible

Notes on 1 John 2:2-6

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Atoning sacrifice - 1 John 2:2

The Greek word (hilasmos), translated here as atoning sacrifice is only used twice in the NT, both times in this letter (cf. 4:10). This word has attracted a lot of debate, but it references the fundamental practice under the old covenant of satisfying God's justice (propitiation) and cleansing human sin (expiation) through animal sacrifices (see notes on Lev. 16:15-16, 30). Jesus took God's wrath for humanity's sins on himself, satisfying the righteous judgment of God in order to forgive them (see note on 1 Pet. 2:24). Jesus advocates for believers (2:1) on the basis of his sacrifice (see notes on Heb. 8-10). the whole world. See HC 1, 37, 56. See notes on Jn. 10:14-16, 25-29; 11:51-52. Jesus did not die for Jews alone, but for the whole world, meaning all people groups. So, this phrase describes all who trust Christ, spread among all the families or tribes of the earth (see notes on Jn. 11:52; 17:6, 9, 19; Rev. 5:9; 7:9). John has already made it clear that those who will be saved must confess their sins and approach God through Christ (1:9; 2:22-23; 4:15; 5:1-5, 12, 19). Therefore, John is not saying everyone will be saved. He also rules this out in 5:11-13, where he writes that those who have the Son have eternal life, but those who do not have the Son do not.

Those Who Know Christ Obey His Commands - 1 John 2:3-6

In chapter two, John addresses three false claims (2:4, 6, 9) in parallel to the false claims he addressed in chapter one (1:6, 8, 10). The claims are that people know God, abide in God, and dwell in the light of God. Each claim asserts the same identity as a child of God, and the same destiny—eternal life. But, John provides his readers with three identifying markers of God’s children, who possess this life: 1) a true confession about Christ, modeled in 2:1b-2. 2) obedience to Christ’s commands, which is the focus of this section, 2:3-6. And, 3) love for fellow Christ-followers, which is the focus of the next section, 2:7-11.

1 John 2:3-4

See WCF 19.5

Know him - 1 John 2:3

know him. In the OT, knowing God meant being in covenant with him, and practicing the ways of the covenant. Israel knew God when they obeyed his commands (see notes on Jer. 22:16; 31:33-34). The prophets frequently said the people were sinning because they did not know God, but that God would one day give them full knowledge of him (see notes on Jer. 9:6, 23-24; 31:34; Hos. 4:1; 6:1-3; Hab. 2:14). For John, to know God means to obey Christ's commands. commandments. See WCF 16.2; 18.1-2; WLC 80. True followers of Jesus do what their master tells them to do (see notes on Jn. 14:15; Eph. 2:10), not perfectly, but the direction in which they are walking follows in his steps (see notes on 2:1 and 1 Pet 2:21)

Truth - 1 John 2:4

truth. In the Fourth Gospel, the word truth (alētheia) refers to Jesus, the Holy Spirit, God’s Word, and practices of life flowing from and integral with them (see notes on Jn. 14:6, 17; 17:17). Truth is creation regained, the good restored in words and deeds that correspond with the reality of God. Therefore, those who profess to know God, but whose lives are characterized by sinful practices are bearing false witness (see note on Ex 20:16; WLC 143 and WSC 76).

The love of God - 1 John 2:5

the love of God has been perfected. The phrase love of God could either refer to God's love for Christians, as it does in other parts of the letter (see notes on 3:17; 4:9, 12) or it could refer to a Christian's love for God, like it does in other parts of the letter (see notes on 2:15; 5:3). Either way, the result is obedience. Since the content of this verse is close to that of 5:3, it probably refers to a Christian's love for God, a love perfected in those who keep God's Word. know that we are in him. See WCF 16.2. Obedience produces an assurance that one truly knows God, because it attests to the Spirit's work of new birth (see notes on John 3:5-8; 1 Jn 3:9-10).

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