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John sets the world and the gospel in opposition to each other. You can’t serve them both. You have to choose and his exhortation is don’t choose the world.
1 John 1:1-4 — is his preface where he emphasizes the apostles are the only reliable source of information about the way to gain eternal life because they were intimate eye-witnesses to the life, ministry and teaching of Jesus.
1 John 1:5-2:2 – John makes the point that God is completely & utterly good. Therefore genuine believers will be marked by 3 things:
- 1 John 1:6-7 – Genuine believers will not pursue sin. Instead, they will pursue holiness (righteousness, goodness).
- 1 John 1:8-9 – Genuine believers will not deny their sinfulness. Instead, they will recognize their sinfulness.
- 1 John 1:10 – Genuine believers will not call their sinful actions right. (1:10); Instead, they will call sin, sin.
- 1 John 2:1-2 -John reiterates that while believers are still sinful, genuine believers are forgiven on account of Jesus.
1 John 2:3-6 – John expands on this principals he stated in chapter 1. Genuine believers will pursue righteousness (holiness).
1 John 2:7-11 – Genuine believers will love the things of God, including His people.
2:12I am writing to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven you for His name’s sake. 13I am writing to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I have written to you, children, because you know the Father. 14I have written to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one. – 1 John 2:12-14 NASB
- I think “I am writing” (2:12) refers forward to 2:15-17 and “have written” (2:14) refers backward to 1:1-2:11.
- 1 John 2:12-13 – I am about to give an exhortation because I know you’re believers.
- 1John 2: 14 – I wrote the earlier warnings (what I just finished writing about how to tell true believers from false) not because I doubt your faith but because I’m confident you are believers and will heed the warnings.
- Children are those who are babes in Christ. Fathers are those who are spiritually mature and young men are somewhere in the middle. John points to their faith in each case.
- Like a baby who knows little else but who her mother and her father are, young believers know their spiritual Father (1 John 2:12-13).
- Fathers who are spiritually mature know and understand the teaching of Jesus and such that it changes their actions and choices (1 John 2:13-14).
- Young men have overcome the evil one (Satan) by persevering in faith (1John 2:13-14).
15Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever. – 1 John 2:12-17 NASB
- In 1 John 2:1-11 he claimed that we have come to know Jesus if we keep his commandments — that is a sign of our faith is our desire for righteousness.
- In 1 John 2:15-17 – John adds, not only do Christians long for righteousness, the reverse is also true: they do not long for the things of this world.
- In this context, “love” is not an uncontrollable emotion but a steady devotion of the will. We are not to choose and value the things of this world over the things of God, in the sense of serving a different master
- This first exhortation –love the Father, not the world — sets the foundation and sets the table for the rest of the letter.
- In 1 John 2:16 “lusts of the flesh” means any/all physical, bodily desires: food, pleasure, emotions, romance, beauty, etc. “lusts of the eyes” = that which pleases the mind; “boastful pride of life” = putting undue importance on our daily pursuits.
- All the pleasures of this world are not the ultimate blessing God has in store for us, they are simply natural gifts that God built in to the created world.
- 1 John 2: 12-14 – John reassures his readers that if they persevere in the faith they are believers and reminds them that the battle in this life is staying strong in your faith.
- 1 John 2: 15-17 – The things of this age (no matter how wonderful) are nothing when compared to what’s to come. Put your trust in God, not in this created world.
For more detail and explanation, please listen to the podcast.
Next: 05 1 John 2:18-28: Who is the liar?
Previous: 03 1 John 2:1-11: Abide in Christ
Series: 1 John: Discerning the True Gospel
Study: 1 John Resources
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