Thirdmill Study Bible

Notes on 1 John 2:12-17

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Children . . . fathers . . . young men - 1 John 2:12-14

dear children… fathers… young men… little children. John could be addressing people of different ages in the same congregation or people at different stages of spiritual growth. He offers his readers a clue by repeatedly calling them children (2:12, 13), which indicates that the purpose for his writing, repeated to their fathers and young men applies to everyone. By addressing their fathers or leaders, John is addressing the congregation's representatives. By addressing their young men or apprentice leaders, John is addressing the congregation's future character. Each set of three statements, repeated with slight variation, then, addresses everyone in the congregation.

Children - 1 John 2:12

forgiven… name. On forgiven, see notes on Lk. 1:31; 2:21. On name, see notes on Acts 2:38; 3:6; 4:12. In Hebrew, the name Jesus means 'the Lord saves or delivers' and his mission was to 'save his people from their sins' (see notes on Matt. 1:21). John's summary about the means of forgiveness echoes his identification of Jesus in 2:2 as the atoning sacrifice for sinners (see notes on 2:2).

Young men...overcome the evil one - 1 John 2:13-14

young men… overcome the evil one. The theme of overcoming evil is crucial for John in this letter (see notes on 4:4; 5:4) and in the Revelation (see notes Rev 1:9; 2:7, 11, 26; 3:5, 21). John's confidence in these young men is rooted in the test they have already passed by remaining in the church; their good confession of Christ; and their obedience to his commands. John does not tell the young men to defeat evil. Rather, they have overcome the evil one (past tense), because of the presence of Christ's Spirit in and among them (1 John 4:4).

Love for God and the World - 1 John 2:15-17

Love for the Ways of God and the World Are Incompatible. Obedience to God is eternal, while the world is fading away. John uses the word kosmos or world in different ways. In John 3:16, kosmos refers to the created order, the world that God made, including human beings. Here, and in 1 John 4:1, kosmos refers to the human system of rebellion against God, or the world system outside the church.

Do not love the world - 1 John 2:15

do not love the world. Our priorities and practices are shaped profoundly by our affections. With a deep understanding of this truth, Augustine asked, "What do you love?" He answered, "Love God, and do as you please" because he knew loving God first would shape what we find pleasure in doing. This is the first of ten imperatives in the letter. The verb love (agapáo–) contrasts two different objects, love for the world system and love for the Father. John warns that we will be shaped by what and who we love. Agape is a self-giving love. If we give ourselves to the world system, we cannot give ourselves to God. Here, the word world (kosmos) has to do with worldly attitudes and values that are against God (see note on Jas. 4:4). To love the world is to live for the things that are in the world (v. 16) instead of seeking the things of God. Another possible reading of the genitive phrase "love of the Father" is "love from the Father" or "the Father's love" in contrast to the things that come from "the world" system in 2:16.

Lust and arrogance - 1 John 2:16

lust… arrogance. See WCF 5.4; BC 13. The word lust (epithumia) occurs thirty-eight times in the NT, and almost always indicates desire leading to sin. This first worldly thing contains the next two. That is, the lust of the eyes and arrogance of life (or possessions) are both parts of the lust of the flesh. The lust of the eyes has to do with coveting that which belongs to others. The arrogance of life or possessions (see note on 3:17) is the other side of coveting, that is a sense of entitlement and self-importance that can result from a misuse of power and wealth. With these three things, John describes worldliness, which destroys love for and fellowship with God.

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