From:  Over 50 Interpreters Explain 1 to 3 John                           Return to Home 

By Roland H. Worth, Jr.  © 2018



List of All Sources Quoted At End of File






CHAPTER 2:15-29




2:15                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If any one loves the world, there is no love in his heart for the Father.

WEB:              Don't love the world, neither the things that are in the world. If anyone loves the world, the Father's love isn't in him.

Young’s:         Love not ye the world, nor the things in the world; if any one doth love the world, the love of the Father is not in him,

Conte (RC):    Do not choose to love the world, nor the things that are in the world. If anyone loves the world, the charity of the Father is not in him.


2:15                 Love not the world.  The emphasis is in this verse on the “love,” which only in this passage is used both of God and the world:  elsewhere we have “friendship with the world” (James 4:4), “minding earthly things” (Philippians 3:19); but the strong word love, the giving up of the whole being, mind, and heart, and will, we have only here.  That in the nature of things, must be reserved for God alone; two contradictory perfect loves cannot be in the same soul; therefore, he who thus loves the world cannot have the love of the Father.  [34]

The best safeguard against the selfish love of what is sinful in the world is to remember God’s unselfish love of the world.  “The world” here is that from which James says the truly religious man keeps himself “unspotted,” friendship with which is “enmity with God” (James 1:27; 4:4).  It is not enough to say that “the world” here means “earthly things, so far as they tempt to sin’” or “sinful lusts,” or “worldly and impious men.”  It means all of these together:  all that acts as a rival to God; all that is alienated from God and opposed to Him.  [23]

neither the things that are in the world.  A man might deny in general that he loved the world, while keenly following the things in it--its riches, honors, or pleasures; this clause prevents him escaping conviction.  [4]  

He is forbidding those things the love of which rivals and excludes the love of God—all those immoral tendencies and pursuits which give the world its evil character.  [24]

If any man love the world.  Referred to in the next verse as “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.”  This explanation shows what John meant by “the things that are in the world.”  He does not say that we are in no sense to love “anything” that is in the material world; that we are to feel no interest in flowers, and streams, and forests, and fountains; that we are to have no admiration for what God has done as the Creator of all things; that we are to cherish no love for any of the inhabitants of the world, our friends and kindred; or that we are to pursue none of the objects of this life in making provision for our families; but that we are not to love the things which are sought merely to pamper the appetite, to please the eye, or to promote pride in living.  These are the objects sought by the people of the world; these are not the objects to be sought by the Christian.  [18]

the love of the Father is not in him.  Love of the world absolutely excludes the love of the Father.  “Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”  [24]



2:16                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     For the things in the world--the cravings of the earthly nature, the cravings of the eyes, the show and pride of life--they all come, not from the Father, but from the world.

WEB:              For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, isn't the Father's, but is the world's.

Young’s:         because all that is in the world -- the desire of the flesh, and the desire of the eyes, and the ostentation of the life -- is not of the Father, but of the world,

Conte (RC):    For all that is in the world is the desire of the flesh, and the desire of the eyes, and the arrogance of a life which is not of the Father, but is of the world.                                                           


2:16                 For.  This verse gives a reason for verse 15, showing that the world is

alienated from God, and [thereby] assigns a reason why the world must not be loved.  [51] 

all that is in the world.  The material contents of the universe cannot be meant.  To say that these did not originate from God would be to contradict the Apostle himself (John 1:3, 10) and to affirm those Gnostic doctrines against which he is contending.  The Gnostics, believing everything material to be radically evil, maintained that the universe was created, not by God, but by the evil one, or at least by an inferior deity.  By “all that is in the world” is meant the spirit which animates it, its tendencies and tone.  These, which are utterly opposed to God, did not originate in Him, but in the free and rebellious wills of His creatures, seduced by “the ruler of this world.”  [23]

He mentions three temptations in the world which constitute a sinful trinity.  As the world is against God, so is this anti-trinity in enmity to Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  All three find their dwelling-place in the heart, but are called into activity by the outward surroundings.  [51]

the lust of the flesh.  [This] is not merely the lust after the flesh, but all lust that has its seat in the flesh (Galatians 5:16; Ephesians 2:3).  [24]

The term “flesh” does not of itself assert selfishness or sinfulness, for John declares again and again that Jesus had a body of flesh (John 6:51; 1 John 4:2, 3, 25, 27).  Nowhere does John incline to the first-century heresy that all matter is sinful in itself; he

always stoutly opposes this notion.  There are instincts of body that are not wrong, the feeling of hunger, of thirst, of pleasurable sensations.  But a sinful and sinning agency has perverted the nature so that it is not only a minister of evil thoughts, but it is, in turn, a creator of evil thoughts.  So much has this nature been debased that the term flesh in the New Testament is almost always opposed to the term spirit, and stands for weakness and sinfulness.  [51]

and the lust of the eyes.   The avenue through which outward things of the world, riches, pomp, and beauty, inflame us.  Satan tried this temptation on Christ when he showed Him the kingdoms of the world in a moment.  By lust of the eyes David (2 Samuel 11:2) and Achan fell (Joshua 7:21).  Compare Psalms 119:37; Job's resolve, Job 31:1; Matthew 5:28.  The only good of riches to the possessor is beholding them with the eyes.  Compare Luke 14:18, “I must go and see it.”  [4]    

That lust that has its origin in sight (Augenlust)curiosity, covetousness, etc. (cf. “the lusts of their hearts,” “the lusts of your body,” Romans 1:24; 6:12).  In the world of John's day the impure and brutal spectacles of the theatre and the arena would supply abundant illustrations of these.  [24]

It is best with Spener to explain:  “All sinful desires by which we seek delight in the seeing itself.”  So also Huther:  “The desire of seeing [inappropriate and improper] things, and the sinful pleasure which the sight of them affords.”  [49]

and the pride of life.  Or arrogancy of living, is ostentation exhibited in the manner of living; the empty pride and pretentiousness of fashion and display.  It includes the desire to gain credit which does not belong to us, and outshine our neighbors.  [24]

is not of the Father.  Nor has it any connection whatever with Him.  [49]

Who has made a better world for us, and makes it ours through his Son.  [33]

but is of the world.  Of this earth rather than of heaven where the Father is.  [rw]

Has its origin in the sinful, which is the source of all ungodliness.  [49]  


                        In depth:  Lust of flesh, eyes, and pride—a summary of all sources of sin in the world or just major representative ones [23]?  The three forms of evil “in the world” mentioned in 1 John 2:16 have been taken as a summary of sin, if not in all its aspects, at least in its chief aspects.  “The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the vainglory of life” have seemed from very early times to form a synopsis of the various modes of temptation and sin.  And certainly they cover so wide a field that we cannot well suppose that they are mere examples of evil more or less fortuitously mentioned.  They appear to have been carefully chosen on account of their typical nature and wide comprehensiveness.

                        There is, however, a wide difference between the views stated at the beginning and end of the preceding paragraph. It is one thing to say that we have here a very comprehensive statement of three typical forms of evil; quite another to say that the statement is a summary of all the various kinds of temptation and sin.

                        To begin with, we must bear in mind what seems to be John’s purpose in this statement.  He is not giving us an account of the different ways in which Christians are tempted, or (what is much the same) the different sins into which they may fall.  Rather, he is stating the principal forms of evil which are exhibited “in the world,” i.e. in those who are not Christians.  He is insisting upon the evil origin of these desires and tendencies, and of the world in which they exist, in order that his readers may know that the world and its ways have no claim on their affections.

                        It is difficult to maintain, without making some of the three heads unnaturally elastic, that all kinds of sin, or even all of the principal kinds of sin, are included in the list.  Under which of the three heads are we to place unbelief, heresy, blasphemy, or persistent impenitence?  Injustice in many of its forms, and especially in the most extreme form of all—murder, cannot without some violence be brought within the sweep of these three classes of evil.

                        Two positions, therefore, may be insisted upon with regard to this classification.  1. It applies to forms of evil which prevail in the non-Christian world rather than to forms of temptation which beset Christians.  2. It is very comprehensive, but it is not exhaustive. 

                        Some of the parallels and contrasts which have from early times been made to the Apostle’s classification are striking, even when somewhat fanciful. Others are both fanciful and unreal.  There is more reality in the parallel drawn between John’s classification and the three elements in the temptation by which Eve was overcome by the evil one, and again the three temptations in which Christ overcame the evil one.  “When the woman saw that the tree was good for food (the lust of the flesh), and that it was pleasant to the eyes (the lust of the eyes), and a tree to be desired to make one wise (the vainglory of life), she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat” (Genesis 3:6).  Similarly, the temptations (1) to work a miracle in order to satisfy the cravings of the flesh, (2) to submit to Satan in order to win possession of all that the eye could see, (3) to tempt God in order to win the glory of a miraculous preservation (Luke 4:1-12).                                   


                        In depth:  Not all desires of the flesh are automatically sinful for many are created within us by God; only sinful expressions of fleshly desires properly go under the label of “lust of the flesh” [37].  The genitive or possessive here—“of the flesh” denotes, not the object of the desire, but its nature.  It is lust of desire of a carnal sort; such as the flesh prompts or occasions.  It is the appetite of sense out of order, or in excess.  It is not, of course, the appetite of sense itself; that is of God, as the provision for its satisfaction is also of God.  The appetite for which food is God's appointed ordinance, and the appetite for which marriage is God's appointed ordinance,—the general needs and cravings of the body which the laws of nature and the gifts of providence so fully meet,—the higher tastes which fair forms and sweet sounds delight,—the eye for beauty and the ear or the soul for music;—these are not, any of them, the lust of the flesh.

But they all, every one of them, may become the lust of the flesh.  And in the world they do become the lust of the flesh.  It is the world's aim to pervert them into the lust of the flesh, and to pander to them in that character, either grossly or with refinement.  Sensuality, or that modification of it now spoken of as sensuousness, enters largely into the world's fascinating cup.  And it may be detached plausibly from what is avowedly and confessedly the world; it may be covertly loved, while the world, as such, is apparently hated.  Gluttony, drunkenness, uncleanness; if not worse excesses, must appease;—these forms or modifications of the lust of the flesh may not be for us the most insidious.  It may creep into our affections disguised almost as an angel of light.  A certain fondness for the good things of this life, an unwillingness to forego them, a pleasant feeling of fullness in the enjoyment of them, a growing impatience of any interruption of that enjoyment—how soon may such a way of tasting even the lawful gratifications of sense grow into selfishness and sin!  And then how readily does the imagination admit ideas and fancies the reverse of pure!  Through how many channels, the news of the day, the gems of literature, the choicest trophies of the fine arts, may unholy desire be kindled!  I may be out of the world; but this that is in the world, “the lust of the flesh,” may not be out of me.



2:17                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     And the world, with its cravings, is passing away, but he who does God's will continues for ever.

WEB:              The world is passing away with its lusts, but he who does God's will remains forever.           

Young’s:         and the world doth pass away, and the desire of it, and he who is doing the will of God, he doth remain -- to the age.

Conte (RC):    And the world is passing away, with its desire. But whoever does the will of God abides unto eternity.


2:17                 And the world passeth away.  As a reference to how it passes away from our sight and presence:  It appears, passes by, is gone, and done with forever, except the account which must be given of our conduct, during the transient scene.  [40]

                        The passing away is not annihilation, but rather a passing along or by.  It describes the act of passing off the stage, or the breaking up of a scene, in a play.  In our passage, it describes the breaking up of the present order and state of things, selfish desires and their objects will soon cease to hold their present relations, passing on and over into darkness, disappointment, and ruin.  The Cosmos, the worldly order, will be broken, and for the godless soul nothing will take its place!  Nothing but a disordered, dark, fragmentary state, utterly hopeless!  [52]

As a reference to how everything within the world is subject to continuing, ongoing change without end:  Not the matter and substance, but the fashion, form, and scheme of it, 1 Corinthians 7:31; kingdoms, cities, towns, houses, families, estates, and possessions, are continually changing, and casting into different hands, and different forms; the men of the world, the inhabitants of it, are continually removing; one generation goes, and another comes, new faces are continually appearing; the riches and honors of the world are fading, perishing, and transitory things; everything is upon the flux, nothing is permanent; which is another argument why the world, and the things of it, are not to be loved.  [16]

and the lust thereof.  Not the lust for the world, but the lust which it exhibits, the sinful tendencies mentioned in 1 John 2:16.  The world is passing away with all its evil ways. How foolish, therefore, to fix one’s affections on what not only cannot endure but is already in process of dissolution!  “The lust hereof” = “all that is in the world.”  [23]

but he that doeth the will of God.  This is the exact opposite of “all that is in the world.”  The one sums up all the tendencies to good in the universe, the other all the tendencies to evil.  [23]

abideth for ever.  This cannot mean that he will never die; but it means that he has built his happiness on a basis which is secure, and which can never pass away.  Compare Matthew 7:24-27.  [18]

Abideth for ever is literally, abideth unto the age (μένει εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα).  The notion of endlessness is, perhaps, not distinctly included; for that we should rather have had εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν, αἰώνων (Revelation 1:18; 11:15; 22:5).  The contrast is not between “passing away” and “lasting forever, but between “passing away” and abiding till “the age” comes.  But as “the age” is the age of eternity as distinguished from this age of time, the rendering “abideth for ever” is justified.  The Jews used “this age” and “the “age to come” to distinguish the periods before and after the coming of the Messiah.  Christians adopted the same phrases to indicate the periods before and after Christ's second coming.  [24]



2:18                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     Dear children, the last hour has come; and as you once heard that there was to be an anti-Christ, so even now many anti-Christs have appeared. By this we may know that the last hour has come.

WEB:              Little children, these are the end times, and as you heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have arisen. By this we know that it is the final hour.

Young’s:         Little youths, it is the last hour; and even as ye heard that the antichrist doth come, even now antichrists have become many -- whence we know that it is the last hour;

Conte (RC):    Little sons, it is the last hour. And, as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have arrived. By this, we know that it is the last hour.                                     


2:18                 Little children.  It is difficult to see anything in this section specially suitable to children:  indeed the very reverse is rather the case.  [23]

                        If the epistle was written in the 90s, then just about all disciples were (as if) little children in comparison to John’s own age.  [rw]                       

it is the last time [hour, NKJV].  An emphatic way of stressing the importance of what is said.  [rw]

Attempting to define the period:  The last dispensation, especially that particular period of it (Hebrews 1:2).  [47]

                        Discussion on the best way to translate:  More literally, it is the last hour; possibly, but not probably, it is a last hour.  The omission of the definite article is quite intelligible and not unusual:  the idea is sufficiently definite without it, for there can be only one last hour.  Similarly (Jude 18) we have “in (the) last time there shall be mockers walking after their own ungodly lusts” and (Acts 1:8; Acts 13:47) “unto (the) uttermost part of the earth.”  [23]

and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come.  Under the term antichrist, or the spirit of antichrist, he includes all false teachers and enemies to the truth; yea, whatever doctrines or men are contrary to Christ.  It seems to have been long after this that the name of antichrist was appropriated to that grand adversary of Christ, the man of sin, 2 Thess 2:3.  Antichrist, in St. John's sense, that is, antichristianism, has been spreading from his time till now; and will do so, till that great adversary arises, and is destroyed by Christ's coming.  [2]

[He] begins to show himself in the false teachers and deceivers, who were his forerunners; and this they had heard and understood, either from the words of Christ in John 5:43; or from the account the Apostle Paul gave to the Thessalonians concerning him, 2 Thessalonians 2:3; or rather it may be from what, the apostle had said to the elders of the church at Ephesus, where the Apostle John now was, when he met them at Miletus, Acts 20:29.  [16]

What being an “antichrist” envolved.   The term “Antichrist” in Scripture occurs only in the First and Second Epistles of John (1 John 2:18, 22, 4:3; 2 John verse 7).  The earliest instance of its use outside Scripture is in Polycarp (Ep. ad Phil, VII.), in a passage which shows that this disciple of John (A.D. 140–155) knew our Epistle.  The term does not mean merely a mock Christ or false Christ, for which the N.T. term is “pseudo-Christ” (Matthew 24:24; Mark 13:22).  Nor does it mean simply an opponent of Christ, for which we should probably have “enemy of Christ,” like “enemy of the Cross of Christ” (Philippians 3:18) and “enemy of God” (James 4:4).  But it includes both these ideas of counterfeiting and opposing; it means an opposition Christ or rival Christ; just as we call a rival Pope an “antipope.”  The Antichrist is, therefore, a usurper, who under false pretences assumes a position which does not belong to him, and who opposes the rightful owner.  The idea of opposition is the predominant one. [23]

even now are there many antichrists.  Systems or men who stand against or instead of Christ.  [47]

Better, as R.V., even now have there arisen many Antichrists: the Christ was from all eternity (1 John 1:1), the Antichrist and his company arose in time; they are come into being.  We have a similar contrast in the Gospel:  “In the beginning was the Word;” but “There arose a man, sent from God, whose name was John” (John 1:1, 6).  These “many Antichrists” are probably to be regarded as at once forerunners of the Antichrist and evidence that his spirit is already at work in the world:  the one fact shows that he is not far distant, the other that in a sense he is already here.  [23]

whereby we know that it is the last time [hour, NKJV].  By the fact that so many Christ imitators have arisen.  They are a “living witness and testimony”—by their very existence—that something even worse spiritually is about to arise.  An yet more ominous and dangerous Antichrist.  [rw]


                        In depth:  The use of “last time/hour/age” language in both testaments [32]. This phraseology occurs first in Genesis 49:1, “That I may tell you that which shall befall you in the last days”; where it means “the sequel of days,” “far-off times.”  So Numbers 24:14, “What this people shall do to thy people in the latter days;” Deuteronomy 4:30, “When all these things are come upon thee, even in the latter days;” and Deuteronomy 31:29, “Evil will befall you in the latter days.”

                        In Isaiah 2:2, it has begun to mean the new age of the world; a vague indefinite time, during which, or before which, Messiah’s kingdom would be established.  “It shall come to pass that in the last days the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established.”  So Micah 4:1.

                        In Matthew 12:32, our Lord distinguishes between this world (or rather, age) and the world to come.  So “this time” is contrasted with “the world to come” in Mark 10:30 and Luke 18:30.  In our Lord’s usage, then, the beginning of the kingdom of Messiah belonged to the present age, and the coming age would not be till the completion of that kingdom.  So the day of resurrection and final judgment, the beginning, that is, of the coming age, is “the last day” of the present (John 6:39-40, 44, 54; John 11:24; John 12:48).

                        Paul also speaks of the present age and the coming, the sufferings of the present time and the glory that shall be, and of things present and things to come (Romans 8:38).  In Titus 2:12-13, those who live “in this present world” are “looking for the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour.”  He says that “in the last days” before that final period there “shall come perilous times” (2 Timothy 3:1); and that “in the latter times some shall depart from the faith” (1 Timothy 4:1).  Although actually in this present age, yet, according to Paul, Christians have more or less entered on the coming age proportionally to their degrees of progress.  So the present age is regarded as tainted with sin and alienated from God (Romans 12:2; 1 Corinthians 2:6, 8; 1 Corinthians 3:18; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Galatians 1:4; Ephesians 2:2 ; 2 Timothy 4:10).  Since the first advent of Christ, he regarded the present age as beginning to draw to its close; “our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come” (1 Corinthians 10:11).

                        Peter identified his age with the “last days” of the prophets (Acts 2:17), and considers the date of the first advent as “in these last times” (1 Peter 1:20).  But as a few verses before (1 Peter 1:5), he speaks of “salvation ready to be revealed in the last time”; and again (2 Peter 3:3), “There shall come in the last days scoffers” (compare Jude verse 18), he evidently looked to a still more definite close of the already closing age.

                        James, too, looked forward to such a period:  “Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days” (James 5:3).  The Epistle to the Hebrews, like the first usage in Peter, treats the existing times as “these last days” (Hebrews 1:1-2); “now once in the end of the world hath He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself” (Hebrews 9:26).  As well as this, it looks forward to the future age of which Christians already, in varying degrees, partake:  “Have tasted the powers of the world to come” (Hebrews 6:5); “Christ being come an high priest of good things to come” (Hebrews 9:11).  This tasting is only a beginning, not an actuality, till the second coming (Hebrews 13:14).

                        John, then, having, like the other Apostles, the notion that the first age was drawing to its close, and that the latter days were already upon the earth, and believing—or, at the very least, firmly hoping—that the second advent was not far off, did not hesitate, especially in view of Matthew 24:22, 24, to speak of the time of his old age as “the last hour.”  Of the date of the second coming even the Son was to be ignorant; but at any rate, since the death of the last of the Apostles, and the closing of the Canon, there has been no change in the Christian dispensation, it has been a constant repetition of repentance, forgiveness, watching.


In depth:  What event is under consideration as being imminent?                                     Physical end of the world [24]?  Just as the apostles, even after the Resurrection (Acts 1:6), remained grossly ignorant of the nature of Christ's kingdom on earth, so to the last they remained ignorant of its duration.  The primitive Church had not yet found its true perspective, and, in common with all Christians of the first age, the apostles believed that Christ would return soon, possibly within the lifetime of some then living.  “Yea, I come quickly” (Revelation 22:20) was by them understood in the most literal sense of ταχύ.  But it will not surprise those who remember Christ's very strong declaration (Mark 13:32), to find even an apostle in ignorance as to the time of the second advent of Christ.  But it may very reasonably and reverently be asked, What becomes of the inspiration of Scripture if an inspired writer tells the Church that the end of the world is near, when it is not near?

                        The Old Testament prophets were often guided to utter language the Divine meaning of which they did not themselves understand.  They uttered the words in one sense, and the words were true in a far higher sense, of which they scarcely dreamed.  The same thing is true of the New Testament prophets, though in a less degree, because the gift of Pentecost had given them powers of insight which their predecessors had not possessed.  The present text seems to be an illustration of this truth.  We can hardly doubt that, in saying, “it is the last hour,” John means to imply that within a few years, or possibly even less time, Christ will return to judgment. 

In this sense the statement is not true.  But it may also mean that the last period in the world's history has begun; and in this sense we have good reason for believing that the statement is true.  “That one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” is not rhetoric, but sober fact.  By the Divine standard times are measured, not according to their duration, but their importance; it is their meaning, not their extent, which gives them value. 

What are all the measureless prehistoric aeons of the material universe compared with the time since the creation of rational life?  What are the thousands of years covered by the Old Testament compared with the portion of a century covered by the New?  The great crisis in the history of the world, constituted by the life and death of Christ, will never be equaled until He comes again.  When he ascended to heaven the last hour sounded.  There may follow a silence (as it seemed to John) about the space of half an hour, but of half a thousand centuries.  Yet the duration of the period, as measured by man, will not alter its essential characteristics; it was, is, and will still remain, “the last hour.”

What Paul taught rules out the literal end of the earth being under consideration [33]:  The error of Huther, Alford, and many others, in applying this “last time” to the second advent ought, we should suppose, to have been prevented by Paul’s express warning to the Thessalonians that such language did not imply Christ’s near approach; as well as Peter’s caution in 2 Peter 3:8 [“But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.  (vs. 9) The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”]  At the approaching close of his life our apostle saw that the withdrawal of his fellow apostles from this scene of things was the close of a historical cycle, and the development of the errorists foretold by Saint Paul had already approached; so that the hour was typical of that last period before the rise of “antichrist” who precedes the last advent.  It was just equivalent to Paul’s predictive phrase, addressed to this same Ephesus, “after my departure,” where these very “many antichrists” are foretold. 

Fall of Jerusalem [14]?  The time here referred to seems to be the destruction of Jerusalem, and the finishing of the Jewish state, both civil and ecclesiastical.  [14]

As equivalent to the last system of Divine revelation (= the gospel system) is now finally available to the human race [35]?  Greek, εσχατη ωρα εστι, it is the last hour, namely, as some understand it, of the duration of the Jewish Church and state, a sense of the expression which is favored by the consideration that it was the period in which our Lord had foretold the rise of many false Christs.  And therefore the apostle here cautions them against such deceivers, intimating, at the same time, for their encouragement and comfort, that the power of their persecutors, the Jews, would speedily be broken.  Doddridge, however, Wesley, and many others, by the last hour, or last time, here understand the last dispensation of grace.  As if the apostle had said, “The last dispensation that God will ever give to the world is now promulgated, and it is no wonder if Satan endeavor, to the utmost, to adulterate a system from which his kingdom has so much to fear.”  [35]

The arrival of the far more dangerous Antichrist than the ones they have been acquainted with?  The last hour could well have no reference to either the fall of Jerusalem (requiring a surprisingly early date for the book) nor the physical Second Coming of the Lord.  Since John’s proof that it is the last time/hour is that there were already “many antichrists” and since the verse is written to warn of the arriving of an even more dangerous “antichrist,” would it not be fully logical to interpret the words as meaning that the arrival of that “antichrist” is now imminent?  It is the “last time / hour” before he arrives?  [rw]   


                        In depth:  Is the Antichrist a specific individual or a mindframe / attitude [23].  Although strongly inclined to identify it as a specific individual he concedes that the evidence is not conclusive:  It remains to say something on two other points of interest. I. Is the Antichrist of John a person or a tendency, an individual man or a principle?  II. Is the Antichrist of John identical with the great adversary spoken of by Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2?  The answer to the one question will to a certain extent depend upon the answer to the other.

                        It will be observed that John introduces the term “Antichrist,” as he introduces the term “Logos” (1 John 1:1; John 1:1), without any explanation.  He expressly states that it is one with which his readers are familiar; “even as ye heard that Antichrist cometh.” Certainly this, the first introduction of the name, looks like an allusion to a person.  All the more so when we remember that the Christ was “He that cometh” (Matthew 11:3; Luke 19:20).  Both Christ and Antichrist had been the subject of prophecy, and therefore each might be spoken of as “He that cometh.”  But it is by no means conclusive.

We may understand “Antichrist” to mean an impersonal power, or principle, or tendency, exhibiting itself in the words and conduct of individuals, without doing violence to the passage.  In the one case the “many antichrists” will be forerunners of the great personal opponent; in the other the antichristian spirit which they exhibit may be regarded as Antichrist.  But the balance of probability seems to be in favor of the view that the Antichrist, of which John’s readers had heard as certain to come shortly before the end of the world, is a person.

                        Such is not the case with the other three passages in which the term occurs.  “Who is the liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ?  This is the Antichrist, even he that denieth the Father and the Son” (1 John 2:22).  There were many who denied that Jesus is the Christ and thereby denied not only the Son but the Father of whom the Son is the revelation and representative.  Therefore once more we have many antichrists, each one of whom may be spoken of as “the Antichrist,” inasmuch as he exhibits the antichristian characteristics.  No doubt this does not exclude the idea of a person who should have these characteristics in the highest possible degree, and who had not yet appeared.  But this passage taken by itself would hardly suggest such a person.

                        So also with the third passage in the First Epistle. “Every spirit which confesseth not Jesus is not of God:  and this is the (spirit) of the Antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it cometh, and now is in the world already” (1 John 4:3).  Here it is no longer “the Antichrist” that is spoken of, but “the spirit of the Antichrist.”  This is evidently a principle; which again does not exclude, though it would not necessarily suggest or imply, the idea of a person who would embody this antichristian spirit of denial.

                        The passage in the Second Epistle is similar to the second passage in the First Epistle.  “Many deceivers are gone forth into the world, even they that confess not Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh.  This is the deceiver and the Antichrist” (1 John 2:7).  Here again we have many who exhibit the characteristics of Antichrist.  Each one of them, and also the spirit which animates them, may be spoken of as “the Antichrist;” the further idea of an individual who shall exhibit this spirit in an extraordinary manner being neither necessarily excluded, nor necessarily implied.

                        The first of the four passages, therefore, will have to interpret the other three.  And as the interpretation of that passage cannot be determined beyond dispute, we must be content to admit that the question as to whether the Antichrist of Saint John is personal or not cannot be answered with certainty.  The probability seems to be in favor of an affirmative answer.  In the passage which introduces the subject (1 John 2:18) the Antichrist, of which the Apostle’s little children had heard as coming, appears to be a person of whom the ‘many antichrists’ with their lying doctrine are the heralds and already existing representatives.  And it may well be that, having introduced the term with the personal signification familiar to his readers, the Apostle goes on to make other uses of it; in order to warn them that, although the personal Antichrist has not yet come, yet his spirit and doctrine are already at work in the world.

                        Nevertheless, we must allow that, if we confine our attention to the passages of John in which the term occurs, the balance in favor of the view that he looked to the coming of a personal Antichrist is far from conclusive.                               


                        In depth:  If one regards the “man of sin” in Paul’s epistle to the Thessalonians to be only one specific individual, then it is quite natural to expect his fellow apostle John to speak in similar terms of a specific individual [23].  There is a strong preponderance of opinion in favor of the view that the Antichrist of John is the same as the great adversary of Paul (2 Thessalonians 2:3).  1. Even in the name there is some similarity; the Antichrist (ἀντίχριστος) and “he that opposeth” (ἀντικείμενος).  And the idea of being a rival Christ which is included in the name Antichrist and is wanting in “he that opposeth,” is supplied in Paul’s description of the great opponent:  for he is a man,” and he “setteth himself forth as God.

2.  Both Apostles state that their readers had previously been instructed about this future adversary.

3.  Both declare that his coming is preceded by an apostasy of many nominal Christians.

4.  Both connect his coming with the Second Advent of Christ.

5.  Both describe him as a liar and deceiver.

6.  Paul says that this “man of sin exalteth himself against all that is called God.”  John places the spirit of Antichrist as the opposite of the Spirit of God.

7.  Paul states that his “coming is according to the working of Satan.”   John implies that he is of the evil one.

8.  Both Apostles state that, although this great opponent of the truth is still to come, yet his spirit is already at work in the world. 

With agreement in so many and such important details before us, we can hardly be mistaken in affirming that the two Apostles in their accounts of the trouble in store for the Church have one and the same meaning.

                        Having answered, therefore, this second question in the affirmative we return to the first question with a substantial addition to the evidence.  It would be most unnatural to understand Paul’s “man of sin” as an impersonal principle; and the widely different interpretations of the passage for the most part agree in this, that the great adversary is an individual.  If, therefore, John has the same meaning as Paul, then the Antichrist of John is an individual.


                        In depth:  The viewing of Antichrist as one specific individual in post-apostolic early centuries [23].   “That Antichrist is one individual man, not a power, not a mere ethical spirit, or a political system, not a dynasty, or a succession of rulers, was the universal tradition of the early Church.”  This strong statement seems to need a small amount of qualification.  The Alexandrian School is not fond of the subject.  “Clement makes no mention of the Antichrist at all; Origen, after his fashion, passes into the region of generalizing allegory.  The Antichrist, the ‘adversary,’ is ‘false doctrine;’ the temple of God in which he sits and exalts himself, is the written Word; men are to flee, when he comes, to ‘the mountains of truth’ (Hom. xxix. in Matt.).  Gregory of Nyssa (Orat. xi. c. Eunom.) follows in the same track.”

Still the general tendency is all the other way.  Justin Martyr (Trypho XXXII.) says “He whom Daniel foretells would have dominion for a time, and times, and an half, is even already at the door, about to speak blasphemous and daring things against the Most High.”  He speaks of him as “the man of sin.”  Irenaeus (v. xxv. 1, 3), Tertullian (De Res. Carn. XXIV., XXV.), Lactantius (Div. Inst. vii. xvii.), Cyril of Jerusalem (Catech. XV. 4, n, 14, 17), and others take a similar view, some of them enlarging much upon the subject.

Augustine (De Civ. Dei, xx. xix.) says “Satan shall be loosed, and by means of that Antichrist shall work with all power in a lying but wonderful manner.”  Jerome affirms that Antichrist “is one man, in whom Satan shall dwell bodily;” and Theodoret that “the Man of Sin, the son of perdition, will make every effort for the seduction of the pious, by false miracles, and by force, and by persecution.”

From these and many more passages that might be cited it is quite clear that the Church of the first three or four centuries almost universally regarded Antichrist as an individual.  The evidence, beginning with Justin Martyr in the sub-Apostolic age, warrants us in believing that in this stream of testimony we have a belief which prevailed in the time of the Apostles and was possibly shared by them. 

But as regards this last point it is worth remarking how reserved the Apostles seem to have been with regard to the interpretation of prophecy.  “What the Apostles disclosed concerning the future was for the most part disclosed by them in private, to individuals—not committed to writing, not intended for the edifying of the body of Christ,—and was soon lost” (J. H. Newman).


                        In depth:  How “Antichrist” can logically refer to two different phenomena; how the existence of many such false teachers could make a reference to the plural “antichrists” quite logical while the combined phenomena of such individuals might be pictured in the singular as “Antichrist” since they exhibited the same core traits [35].  “The word αντιχριστος, antichrist, is nowhere found but in John’s first and second epistle.  It may have two meanings.  For if the preposition αντι, in αντιχριστος, denotes in place of, the name will signify one who puts himself in the place of Christ:  consequently antichrist is a false Christ.  But if the preposition denotes oppositions, antichrist is one who opposeth Christ.  The persons to whom this epistle was written had heard of the coming of antichrist in both senses of the name.

“For the first sort of antichrists were foretold by our Lord, Matthew 24:5:  Many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ, and shall deceive many.  The second sort were foretold Matthew  [in] Matthew 24:11, Many false prophets will arise and deceive many.

 From what John hath written, verse 22 of this chapter, and chapter 4:3-4; 1 John 2:7, there is reason to think that by antichrist he meant those false prophets, or teachers, who were foretold by our Lord to rise about the time of the destruction of Jerusalem, and who were now gone abroad.  Some of these denied the humanity of Jesus Christ, others of them denied his divinity; and as both sorts opposed Christ, by denying the redemption of the world through His death, it is probably of them chiefly that John speaks in his epistles.  When the apostle mentions these false teachers collectively, he calls them the antichrist in the singular number, as Paul called the false teachers collectively, of whom he prophesied, 2 Thessalonians 2:3, the man of sin.  But when John speaks of these teachers as individuals, he calls them many antichrists, in the plural number.” — Macknight.  [35]   



2:19                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     They have gone forth from our midst, but they did not really belong to us; for had they belonged to us, they would have remained with us. But they left us that it might be manifest that professed believers do not all belong to us.

WEB:              They went out from us, but they didn't belong to us; for if they had belonged to us, they would have continued with us. But they left, that they might be revealed that none of them belong to us.

Young’s:         out of us they went forth, but they were not of us, for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but -- that they might be manifested that they are not all of us.

Conte (RC):    They went out from among us, but they were not of us. For, if they had been of us, certainly they would have remained with us. But in this way, it is made manifest that none of them are of us.


2:19                 They went out from us.  This implies that these antichrists were apostates.  The worst men are often those who were once outwardly religious and have fallen away.  [3]

                        Here the writer is evidently speaking of a school [of thought] which had already gone to the length of actual separation.  [50]

                        This verse is also an encouragement to the remaining disciples who might fear from the defection of these teachers that the entire church was in danger of going to pieces.  [51]

                        Possible causes of the exodus:  Whether they went out because pressed out, or wholly of their own motion, does not appear.  Though disagreeing with the main body of Christians, and separated, they still claimed to interpret the Christian doctrine, and evidently professed to be Christian teachers, and, indeed, the true ones, else they could have had no power of seduction over Christian minds (verse 26); and the injunction to try the spirits (4:1-3) would have been altogether needless.  Persons who stood forth as direct opponents of Christianity, outside of the Christian pale, were already distinguished, and needed no testing; and such would scarcely come under the head of deceivers—for they played no false part, wore no mask.  [52]

                        Even if one wishes to quibble, the text still refers to departing from the Christian community:  It was their own doing, a distinct secession from our communion:  in the Greek, “from us” comes first for emphasis.  It is incredible [to claim] that the words can mean “they proceeded from us Jews.”  What point would there be in that?  Moreover, John never writes as a Jew, but always as a Christian to Christians.  “Us” includes all true Christians, whether of Gentile or Jewish origin.  Compare Paul’s warning to the Ephesian presbyters, “From among your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them” (Acts 20:30); where the Greek is similar to what we have here:  and “Certain men, the children of Belial, are gone out from among you, and have withdrawn the inhabitants of their city, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which ye have not known” (Deuteronomy 13:13); where the Greek of LXX is still closer to this passage.  [23]  

but they were not of us.  They were of the church, and of the same mind with it, at least in profession, antecedent to their going out; for had they not been in communion with the church, they could not be properly said to go out of it; and if they had not been of the same mind and faith in profession, they could not be said to depart from it.  [16]

Or:  They never belonged properly and inwardly to us.  There is no bond of relationship between them and us.  [50]

Explaining the antithesis presented:  The single act of departure (aorist) is contrasted with the lasting condition of being “of us” (imperfect).  It is difficult to bring out in English the full force of the antithesis which is so easily expressed in the Greek.  “From out of us they went forth, but they were not from out of us;” where “from out of us” (ἐξ ἡμῶν) is of course used in two different senses, “out from our midst” and “originating with us.”  [23]

“From us,” in the preceding sentence, and “of us,” here, are the same (ἐξ ἡμῶν) in the Greek.  But the former, with its verb of motion, has a local meaning; while the latter, with its verb of being, has a meaning of spiritual derivation, affinity, or relationship.  These men had no vital sympathy with the Church of Christ.  They had taken the Christian name, but had never had the Christian nature. [52]

for if they had been of us.  If they had been sincere and true Christians. 

Truly and fully committed to the truth as we are.  [rw]

they would no doubt have continued with us.  The words “no doubt” are supplied by our translators, but the affirmation is equally strong without them: “they would have remained with us.” [18]  

Note that John does not say “they would have abided among us (ἐν ἡμῖν),” but “with us (μεθ' ἡμῶν).”  This brings out more clearly the idea of fellowship:  “these antichrists had no real sympathy with us/”   [23]

but they went out that they might be made manifest.  Tragic as their departure was, it served a constructive purpose—by revealing to everyone that their commitment to the gospel was secondary to their commitment to whatever changes to it that they preferred.  [rw]

that they were not all of us.  Their exodus was no loss to the Church, but a good providence.  Their exposure would relieve the Church of all responsibility for their false doctrines and unbecoming lives.  [33]


In depth:  The cycle of thought from 2:19-4:6 [6].  The second cycle centers around the thought that God is righteous (1 John 2:29); hence, fellowship with God depends on doing righteousness.  In the working out of the proposition the apostle speaks of three things:

(1)  The motive for doing righteousness:  the hope we have through our sonship to God (1 John 3:1-10);

(2)  The test of doing righteousness:  love to the brethren (1 John 3:11-18); and

(3)  The reward of doing righteousness:  assurance of salvation (1 John 3:19-4:6).   



2:20                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     As for you, you have an anointing from the holy One and have perfect knowledge.

WEB:              You have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all have knowledge.

Young’s:         And ye have an anointing from the Holy One, and have known all things;

Conte (RC):    Yet you have the anointing of the Holy One, and you know everything.                               


2:20                 But ye have an unction [anointing, NKJV].  An anointing, considered as the ceremony or induction to office.  The idea is, that they had been admitted to the station and privileges of the children of God by the Holy One himself, and would not prove apostate, like those mentioned in the 1 John 2:19.  [12]

Unction here signifies the doctrine which they received together with the Holy Ghost or Spirit of God; in which he exhorts them to remain, as being sufficient for their instruction, and to make them avoid the new teachers of false doctrine. (Witham)  [29]

We cannot positively decide from this passage whether John is here thinking of the Holy Ghost communicated at Baptism, or to the gift continually bestowed by means of the preaching of the Word—most likely the latter, as we may infer from what follows.  [49]

from the Holy One.  Either Christ (Mark 1:24; Acts 3:14; &c.) or the Father (2 Corinthians 1:21, “He that . . . anointed us is God;” Hebrews 1:9).  [45]  

and ye know all things.  That is, all things which it is essential that you should know on the subject of religion.  [18]

The truth of the gospel is disclosed to you.  This also is probably directed against the pride of the Gnostics, who denied that the church possessed the true and full knowledge and claimed it entirely for their own little circle.  [50]

Or:  All things needful to guard against these opposers and seducing teachers.   [3] 

A textual change when working from “critical” versions of the Greek text:  not “you know all things” but all of his readers know these things (ESV, NASB, NIV, etc.):  [KJV text] so the Alexandrine manuscript and the Codex Ephremi.  But the two oldest manuscripts, the Sinaitic and the Vatican, have “ye all know,” i.e., “know the truth.”  [45]


In depth:  Albert Barnes on the breadth and limits of the promised knowledge [18].  The meaning cannot be that they knew all things pertaining to history, to science, to literature, and to the arts; but that, under the influences of the Holy Spirit, they had been made so thoroughly acquainted with the truths and duties of the Christian religion, that they might be regarded as safe from the danger of fatal error.  The same may be said of all true Christians now, that they are so taught by the Spirit of God, that they have a practical acquaintance with what religion is, and with what it requires, and are secure from falling into fatal error.  In regard to the general meaning of this verse, then, it may he observed:

I. That it does not mean any one of the following things:

                        (1)  That Christians are literally instructed by the Holy Spirit in all things, or that they literally understand all subjects.  The teaching, whatever it may be, refers only to religion.

                        (2)  It is not meant that any new faculties of mind are conferred on them, or any increased intellectual endowments, by their religion.  It is not a fact that Christians, as such, are superior in mental endowments to others; nor that by their religion they have any mental traits which they had not before their conversion.  Paul, Peter, and John had essentially the same mental characteristics after their conversion which they had before; and the same is true of all Christians.

                        (3)  It is not meant that any new truth is revealed to the mind by the Holy Spirit.  All the truth that is brought before the mind of the Christian is to be found in the Word of God, and “revelation,” as such, was completed when the Bible was finished.

                        (4)  It is not meant that anything is perceived by Christians which they had not the natural faculty for perceiving before their conversion, or which other people have not also the natural faculty for perceiving.  The difficulty with people is not a defect of natural faculties, it is in the blindness of the heart.

                        II. The statement here made by John does imply the following things:     

                        (1)  That the minds of Christians are so enlightened that they have a new perception of the truth.  They see it in a light in which they did not before.  They see it as truth.  They see its beauty, its force, its adapted less to their condition and wants.  They understand the subject of religion better than they once did, and better than others do.  What was once dark appears now plain; what once had no beauty to their minds now appears beautiful; what was once repellant is now attractive.

                        (2)  They see this to be true; that is, they see it in such a light that they cannot doubt that it is true. They have such views of the doctrines of religion, that they have no doubt that they are true, and are willing on the belief of their truth to lay down their lives, and stake their eternal interests.

                        (3)  Their knowledge of truth is enlarged.  They become acquainted with more truths than they would have known if they had not been under the teaching of the Holy Spirit.  Their range of thought is greater; their vision more extended, as well as more clear.

                        III. The evidence that this is so is found in the following things:

                        (1)  The express statements of Scripture. See 1 Corinthians 2:14-15, and compare John 16:13-14.

                        (2)  It is a matter of fact that it is so.

(a)  People by nature do not perceive any beauty in the truths of religion.  They are distasteful to them, or they are repulsive and offensive.  “The doctrine of the cross is to the Jew a stumbling-block, and to the Greek foolishness.”  They may see indeed the force of an argument, but they do not see the beauty of the way of salvation. 

                        (b)  When they are converted they do.  These things appear to them to be changed, and they see them in a new light, and perceive a beauty in them which they never did before.



2:21                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     I have written to you, not because you are ignorant of the truth, but because you know it, and you know that nothing false comes from the truth.

WEB:              I have not written to you because you don't know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth.

Young’s:         I did not write to you because ye have not known the truth, but because ye have known it, and because no lie is of the truth.

Conte (RC):    I have not written to you as to ones who are ignorant of the truth, but as to ones who know the truth.  For no lie is of the truth.


2:21                 I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth.  You are not to regard my writing to you in this earnest manner as any evidence that I do not suppose you to be acquainted with religion and its duties.  Some, perhaps, might have been disposed to put this construction on what he had said, but he assures them that that was not the reason why he had thus addressed them.  The very fact that they did understand the subject of religion, he says, was rather the reason why he wrote to them.  [18]  

but because ye know it.  This is one of that very large number of passages in the Apostolical Epistles which teach us that the persons to whom they were written were already in possession of all truth through the original oral teaching, and all the epistles did for them is to remind them of what they knew, and sometimes put it into new lights and enforce it.  [42] 

and that no lie is of the truth.  No false doctrine can come from true piety.  [12]

                        What this lie is, is evident from the next verse.  Truth and falsehood are absolutely antagonistic to one another.  Truth cannot proceed out of falsehood, neither can falsehood spring out of truth.  [42]  

                        Or:  This may mean simply that truth and falsehood cannot be at one; or it may be a sort of vindication of our Blessed Redeemer and mean, no lie can proceed from Him, Who is the Truth.  [43]  



2:22                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     Who is a liar compared with him who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He who disowns the Father and the Son is the anti-Christ.

WEB:              Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the Antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son.

Young’s:         Who is the liar, except he who is denying that Jesus is the Christ? this one is the antichrist who is denying the Father and the Son;

Conte (RC):    Who is a liar, other than he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This one is the Antichrist, who denies the Father and the Son.          


2:22                 Who is a liar.  However pious he may seem to be, he simply doesn’t know what he is talking about.  He may not be contradicting what he thinks is the truth, but he is contradicting what is really the truth and neither his piety nor enthusiasm justifies it in any way.  [rw]

but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ?  It would seem that the apostle referred to a class who admitted that Jesus lived, but who denied that he was the true Messiah.  On what grounds they did this is unknown; but to maintain this was, of course, the same as to maintain that He was an impostor.  The ground taken may have been that He had not the characteristics ascribed to the Messiah in the prophets; or that He did not furnish evidence that he was sent from God; or that he was an enthusiast.  Or perhaps some special form of error may be referred to, like that which is said to have been held by Corinthus, who in his doctrine separated Jesus from Christ, maintaining them to be two distinct persons.  [18]

Plainly, in John's view, to deny that Jesus is the Christ is to deny the Son; the two denials are declared to be one and the same.  And yet there is a difference.  The object of the one denial is a proposition; the object of the other is a person.  Nor is the difference accidental or unimportant; on the contrary, it is very significant.   If the denial of a proposition concerning any person is to be viewed as identical with the denial of the person himself, the proposition must be one that vitally affects his nature and character. It must be something far more deeply touching His birth, or His birthright, or his worthiness of either, that I deny, before you can construe my denial of it, into a disloyal and traitorous denial of Himself.  [37]  

He is antichrist.  The article before “antichrist,” almost certainly spurious in 1 John 2:18, is certainly genuine here, 1 John 4:3  and 2 John verse 7.  [23]

that denieth the Father and the Son.  In short:  He who denies the Son must of necessity [logically] deny the Father.  [43]

At greater length:  The charge here is not that they entertained incorrect views of God “as such”--as almighty, eternal, most wise, and good; but that they denied the doctrines which religion taught respecting God as Father and Son.  Their opinions tended to a denial of what was revealed respecting God as a Father--not in the general sense of being the “Father” of the universe, but in the particular sense of His relation to the Son.  It cannot be supposed that they denied the existence and perfections of God as such, nor that they denied that God is a “Father” in the relation which he sustains to the universe; but the meaning must be that what they held went to a practical denial of that which is special to the true God, considered as sustaining the relation of a Father to His Son Jesus Christ.  Correct views of the Father could not be held without correct views of the Son; correct views of the Son could not be held without correct views of the Father.  The doctrines respecting the Father and the Son were so connected that one could not be held without holding the other, and one could not be denied without denying the other.  [18]



2:23                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     No one who disowns the Son has the Father. He who acknowledges the Son has also the Father.

WEB:              Whoever denies the Son, the same doesn't have the Father. He who confesses the Son has the Father also.  

Young’s:         every one who is denying the Son, neither hath he the Father, he who is confessing the Son hath the Father also.

Conte (RC):    No one who denies the Son also has the Father.  Whoever confesses the Son, also has the Father.


2:23                 Whosoever denieth the Son.  There are no exceptions.  This is the universal, ongoing, and permanent fact.  [rw]

                        Seeing the Father can only be known, approached, worshipped, and glorified by sinners in and through His incarnate Son; and they who “honor not the Son, honor not the Father that sent Him.”  The denial of the Son is therefore a denial of the Father.  [40]

the same hath not the Father.  “To have the Father” must not be weakened to mean “to hold as an article of faith that He is the Father;” still less, “to know the Father’s will.”  It means, quite literally, “to have Him as his own Father.”  Those who deny the Son cancel their own right to be called “sons of God:  they ipso facto excommunicate themselves from the great Christian family in which Christ is the Brother, and God is the Father, of all believers.  “To as many as received Him, to them gave He the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).  [23]

he that acknowledgeth the Son.  Of what/who He truly is; who recognizes and embraces that truth rather than rejecting or bending it into conformity with some popular theory.  [rw]

hath the Father also.  The approval, the endorsement, the presence of.  [rw]



2:24                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     As for you, let the teaching which you have received from the very beginning continue in your hearts. If that teaching does continue in your hearts, you also will continue to be in union with the Son and with the Father.

WEB:              Therefore, as for you, let that remain in you which you heard from the beginning. If that which you heard from the beginning remains in you, you also will remain in the Son, and in the Father.

Young’s:         Ye, then, that which ye heard from the beginning, in you let it remain; if in you may remain that which from the beginning ye did hear, ye also in the Son and in the Father shall remain,

Conte (RC):    As for you, let what you have heard from the beginning remain in you. If what you have heard from the beginning remains in you, then you, too, shall abide in the Son and in the Father.                    


2:24                 Let that therefore abide in you.  Remain in you; the same word in each clause [of this verse].  To abide or remain, when said of God’s Word, means that it abides as a living principle.  Thus the Lord says, “If ye abide in me and my words abide in you.”  [42]

which ye have heard from the beginning.  The pure doctrine of the gospel is that which was from the beginning; that which was preached by the apostles and evangelists, and which is with certainty to be found in their writings, and nowhere else: accordingly Tertullian says, “That is true which was first; that was first which was from the beginning; that was from the beginning, which was from the apostles.”  [36]

If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you.  “If”--Here is the dread alternative of perseverance or apostasy; which, your own free will must decide.  [33]

Abide . . . remain . . . continue:  [In this verse] the same word in the Greek.  [50]

ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father.  We abide in the Son, as we may be said to abide in any one when his words abide in us—or when that which we have heard of Him, or from Him, from the beginning, abides in us; when we understand and know Him, by what He says and what we hear; when what we thus understand and know of Him takes hold of us, carries our conviction, commands our confidence and love, fastens and rivets itself in our mind and heart, and so abides in us.  Thus we abide in the Son precisely as we abide in a friend whom we know, and trust, and love.  [37]


                        In depth:  Weakness of the KJV translation [23].  Here the arbitrary distinctions introduced by the translators of 1611 reach a climax:  the same Greek word (μένειν) is rendered in three different ways in the same verse.  Elsewhere it is rendered in four other ways, making seven English words to one Greek: “dwell” (John 1:39; 6:56; 14:10, 17), “tarry” (John 4:40; 21:22-23), “endure” (John 6:27), “be present” (John 14:25).  The translators in their Address to the Reader tell us that these changes were often made knowingly and sometimes of set purpose.  They are generally regrettable, and here are doubly so:  (1) an expression characteristic of John and of deep meaning is blurred, (2) the emphasis gained by iteration, which is also characteristic of John, is entirely lost.  “Let the truths which were first taught you have a home in your hearts:  if these have a home in you, ye also shall have a home in the Son and in the Father.”



2:25                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     And this is the promise which He Himself has given us--the Life of the Ages.

WEB:              This is the promise which he promised us, the eternal life.

Young’s:         and this is the promise that He did promise us -- the life the age-during.

Conte (RC):    And this is the Promise, which he himself has promised to us: Eternal Life.


2:25                 And this is the promise.  If we abide in him.  [2]

                        that he hath promised us.  When He was on earth.  Union with the Son and Father is the essence or principle of that which was promised—namely, the eternal life.  [52]

even eternal life.  The final and endless blessing coming down upon the faithful from “the Father” through “the Son.”  [33]  



2:26                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     I have thus written to you concerning those who are leading you astray.

WEB:              These things I have written to you concerning those who would lead you astray.

Young’s:         These things I did write to you concerning those leading you astray;

Conte (RC):    I have written these things to you, because of those who would seduce you.                 


2:26                 These things have I written unto you.  These things” probably mean the warnings about the antichrists, not the whole Epistle.  [23]

concerning them that seduce you.  The word “seduce” means to lead astray; and it here refers to those who would seduce them “from the truth,” or lead them into dangerous error.  The apostle does not mean that they had actually seduced them, for he states in the following verse that they were yet safe; but he refers to the fact that there was danger that they might be led into error.  [18]



2:27                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     And as for you, the anointing which you received from Him remains within you, and there is no need for any one to teach you. But since His anointing gives you instruction in all things--and is true and is no falsehood--you are continuing in union with Him even as it has taught you to do.

WEB:              As for you, the anointing which you received from him remains in you, and you don't need for anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is no lie, and even as it taught you, you will remain in him.

Young’s:         and you, the anointing that ye did receive from him, in you it doth remain, and ye have no need that any one may teach you, but as the same anointing doth teach you concerning all, and is true, and is not a lie, and even as was taught you, ye shall remain in him.

Conte (RC):    But as for you, let the Anointing that you have received from him abide in you. And so, you have no need of anyone to teach you. For his Anointing teaches you about everything, and it is the truth, and it is not a lie. And just as his Anointing has taught you, abide in him.


2:27                 But the anointing.  This anointing is spoken of because it furnishes them a means of guarding against the false teachers and seducers.  The passage does not teach a continuous revelation, or that we are to be led by the inner light, but that God has given us means of knowing whether men speak the truth.  [3] 

Anointing as an ancient Jewish practice showing someone or something that has been set aside to serve a divine purpose:  We read in the book of Genesis (28:18) that when Jacob dedicated to God the place where God had favored him with a vision, he took the stone on which he had laid his head, “and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon it.  When the law of Moses was established among the Israelites, the place of worship, and the vessels used in worship, were anointed with oil (Exodus 28:41; Leviticus 6:10, 7:1, etc.).

When Samuel was sent to select a king for Israel (1 Samuel 9:1), “he took a vial of oil and poured it on his head, and kissed him, and said, Is it not because the Lord hath anointed thee to be captain over his inheritance?”

To anoint, therefore, was to consecrate.  These Christians had been consecrated to God when baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus; had been anointed with the Spirit of God, of which the oil was understood to be an emblem [cf. Acts 2:38?].  And the anointing which they received of him, had been [intended to begin] an abiding sanctification.  [46]  

which ye have received of him.  An anointing that no one else could give you.  [rw]

abideth in you.  You have not lost it; it has not been removed from you in any manner or degree.  [rw]

Or:  We often, in order to convey a command or a rebuke gently, state as a fact what ought to be a fact.  This is perhaps John’s meaning here.  If not, it is an expression of strong confidence in those whom he addresses.  [23] 

and ye need not that any man teach you.  For the Holy Spirit teaches us through the word of God that He revealed to the apostles and prophets.  [rw]

[This] does not mean, however, that the readers have no need of Christian instruction, as the former statement, “ye know all things,” does not mean that they are infallible.  It does mean that those who will ponder the gospel message, and allow the Holy Spirit to guide them, will come to an enlarging knowledge and a joyful assurance of the truth concerning Christ as the divine Son of God.  [44]

This seems to be quite conclusive against “little children” anywhere in this Epistle meaning children in years or children in knowledge of the Gospel.  John writes throughout for adult and well-instructed Christians, to whom he writes not to give information, but to confirm and enforce and perhaps develop what they have all along known.  [23]

And:  Ye need not the aid of these opposing teachers.  [3]   

but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things.  For the Spirit through the revealed word provides us with access to every spiritual truth and reality that God wishes us to be aware of.  [rw]

Interpreted as the Holy Spirit:  A hint to modern fanatics—It is important to bear in mind that this passage does not hold out the least encouragement, or give support to the vagaries of fanatics, because the Holy Spirit works on the basis of the Word given and received, and does not communicate anything new, but only imparts to believers clear perceptions and views of that which they already have.  (Dr. Braune)  [47]

The same “bottom line” occurs if one simply takes the text to refer to our being “anointed” to God’s service by obeying and adhering to what the Scriptures teach us since it is a complete revelation of God’s will by the Spirit (John 16:12-15).  [rw] 

and is truth and is no lie.  The Holy Spirit not only teaches the truth, but is absolutely the Spirit of truth (John 14:17) and where the Spirit teaches through the Word there is no lie.  [49]  

and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.  Margin, “or it.” The Greek will bear either construction.  The connection, however, seems to demand that it should be understood as referring to Him--that is, to the Savior.  [18]



2:28                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     And now, dear children, continue in union with Him; so that, if He re-appears, we may have perfect confidence, and may not shrink away in shame from His presence at His Coming.

WEB:              Now, little children, remain in him, that when he appears, we may have boldness, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.

Young’s:         And now, little children, remain in him, that when he may be manifested, we may have boldness, and may not be ashamed before him, in his presence;

Conte (RC):    And now, little sons, abide in him, so that when he appears, we may have faith, and we may not be confounded by him at his advent.


2:28                 And now.  “And now” denotes simple transition to a new phase of the matter of abiding in Christ.  John had just urged it from the consideration that it was the Spirit’s and the Lord’s teaching.  He now urges it from the consideration of the Lord’s second coming.  [52]

little children.  St. John has several times called the Christians to whom he wrote, little children; not that it is to be supposed they were all his converts, though probably many of them were; but he was an apostle, and, as such, he looked upon himself as a father, and all Christians under his care and inspection as his children.  It was a tender and affectionate appellation, denoting his paternal authority, love, and concern for them.  [36]  

abide in him.  Earnest and repeated exhortation to that determination of their own free will which God will not overrule to their perseverance, and without which they will apostatize.  [33]

God wishes all people to be saved, but He will not force anyone.  [rw]

                        “Abide” is one of the favorite words of John, occurring twenty-three times in this letter.  John had heard his Master use this word eleven times in the teaching concerning the vine and the branch (John 16:1-16).

that, when he shall appear [at his coming, ASV, WEB].  In His “coming” or presence (παρουσίᾳ), when manifested at the last day.  The important word occurs but once in all John's writings, though several times elsewhere in the New Testament.  [52]

Note on the Greek text:  Better, as R.V., that. if He shall be manifested.  The “when” (ὅταν) of A.V. (KL) must certainly give place to “if” (ἐάν), which is more difficult and has overwhelming support (אABC).  “If” seems to imply a doubt as to Christ’s return, and the change to “when” has probably been made to avoid this.  But “if” implies no doubt as to the fact, it merely implies indifference as to the time: “if He should return in our day.”  [23]  

we may have confidence.  That nothing we have done or believed will produce a solemn rebuke when the Lord returns.  [rw]

It is noticeable that John joins himself with his readers in using “we.”  [51]

and not be ashamed before him.  This cannot well be improved, but it is very inadequate:  the Greek is “be ashamed from Him,” or “be shamed away from Him;” strikingly indicating the averted face and shrinking form which are the results of the shame.  “Turn with shame” or “shrink with shame from Him” have been suggested as renderings.  Similarly, in Matthew 10:28, “Be not afraid of them” is literally “Do not shrink away in fear from them.”   [23]

at his coming.  Whenever that unknown event shall take place.  [33]

On the Greek usage:  The Greek word (παρουσία = presence) occurs nowhere else in John’s writings.  In [the] N.T. it amounts almost to a technical term to express Christ’s return to judgment (Matthew 24:3,27,37,39; 1 Corinthians 15:23; 1 Thessalonians 2;9; 3:13; 4:15; 5:23; James 5:7-8; 2 Peter 1:16, &c).  John uses it, as he uses “the Word” and “the evil one,” without explanation, confident that his readers understand it.  This is one of many small indications that he writes to well-instructed believers, not to children or the recently converted.  [23]



2:29                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     Since you know that He is righteous, be assured also that the man who habitually acts righteously is a child of His.

WEB:              If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of him.

Young’s:         if ye know that he is righteous, know ye that every one doing the righteousness, of him hath been begotten.

Conte (RC):    If you know that he is just, then know, too, that all who do what is just are born of him.


2:29                 If ye know that he is righteous.  “He” in “he is righteous” ought, in view of 1 John 2:28, to refer to Christ, whilst “begotten of him” according to general NT usage, should mean “begotten of God.”  The somewhat loose use of the pronoun is an illustration of the ease with which John's thought passed from God to Christ and vice versa, the identity between them being regarded as so complete.  [10]

                        The interpretive options:  Clearly “He” and “Him” must be interpreted alike:  it destroys the argument to interpret “He is righteous” of Christ and “born of Him” of God.  Moreover, this explanation gets rid of one abrupt change by substituting another still more abrupt.  That “He, Him, His” in 1 John 2:28 means Christ, and “He, Him” in 1 John 2:29 means God, is some confirmation of the view that a new division of the letter begins with verse 29.  But John is so full of the truth that Christ and the Father are one, and that Christ is God revealed to man, that he makes the transition from one to the other almost imperceptibly.  Had his readers asked him of one of these ambiguous passages, “Are you speaking of Christ or of God”? he would perhaps have replied, “Does it matter”?  [23]

ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him.  This is a visible manifestation that we have a child/parent relationship.  Since righteousness is such a fundamental characteristic of His nature, this visibly verifies that we share His “DNA.”  [rw] 

It follows as a matter of course from God's righteousness that every

Christian should be righteous.  It was a part of their common stock of knowledge that the life lived in the light (1:7) must be a holy life, [hence] “ye know” [in this verse].  [51]

is born of him.  Or as he expresses it in his gospel, be “born again.”  [43]

“Doeth righteousness” defines the life that springs from forgiveness.  This is the result of the new birth, not the occasion or cause of it.  [51]








All commentaries are in the public domain; the copyright having expired or never been on them. 



1          Marvin R. Vincent, D.D.  Word Studies in the New Testament.  1886.  Internet edition. 


2          John Wesley.  Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible.  1754-1765.  Internet edition.


3          Barton Johnson.  People’s New Testament.  1891.  Internet edition.


4          Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, David Brown.  Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible.  Unabridged edition.  Internet edition.


5          Charles Simeon.  Horae Homileticae.  1832.  Internet edition.


6          James Gray.  Concise Bible Commentary.  1897-1910.  Internet edition.


7          John Dummelow, editor.  Dummelow’s Commentary on the Bible.  1909.  Internet edition. 


8          Frank B. Hole.  Old and New Testament Commentary.  Internet edition.            


9          E. M. Zerr.  Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament.  Internet edition.


10        Arthur Peake.  Commentary on the Bible.  1919.  Internet edition.


11        John A. Bengel.  Gnomon of the New Testament.  1897.  Internet edition.          


12        John S. C. Abbott.  Illustrated New Testament.  1878.  Internet edition. 


13        Joseph Sutcliffe.  Commentary on the Old and New Testaments.  1835.  Internet edition. 


14        Matthew Poole.  English Annotations on the Bible.  1685.  Internet edition.        


15        Paul E. Kretzmann.  Popular Commentary.  1921-1922.  Internet edition.            


16        John Gill.  Exposition of the Entire Bible.  1746-1763.  Internet edition. 


17        Adam Clarke.  Commentary.  1832.  Internet edition.        


18        Albert Barnes.  Notes on the New Testament.  1870.  Internet edition.   


19        Heinrich Meyer.  Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament.  1832.  Internet edition.             


20        Johann P. Lange.  Commentary on the Holy Scriptures:  Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical.  1857-1884.  Internet edition.        


21        William R. Nicoll, editor.  Expositor’s Greek Testament.  1897-1910.  Internet edition. 


22        Henry Alford.  Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary.  1863-1878.  Internet edition.        


23        Alfred Plummer.  Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges.  1889.  Internet edition.  Basically a “simplified” version of the Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges.       


24        The Pulpit Commentary.  1897.  Internet edition.  


25        John Trapp.  Complete Commentary.  Lived 1601-1669.  1865-1868 reprinting.  Internet edition.  


26        William Godbey.  Commentary on the New Testament.  Internet edition.  


27        John Calvin.  Commentary on the Bible.  Internet edition.            


28        Joseph C. Philpot (1802-1869).  Commentary on Select Texts.  Internet edition.            


29        George Haydock (1774-1849).  Catholic Bible Commentary.  Internet edition.  

30        H. A. Ironside.  Ironside’s Notes on Selected Books.  1914.  Internet edition     


31        Lost source; rather than delete the material, I felt it better to simply list the unidentifiable volume and admit my error.          


32        Charles J. Ellicott, editor. Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers.  Internet edition.          


33        Daniel D. Whedon.  Commentary on the Bible.  Internet edition. 


34        Philip Schaff, editor.  Schaff’s Popular Commentary on the New Testament.  Internet edition.  


35        Joseph Benson (born 1748).  Commentary of the Old and New Testaments.  Internet edition.  


36        Thomas Coke (published 1801-1803).  Commentary on the Holy Bible.  Internet edition.          


37        Robert S. Candlish.  The First Epistle of John Expounded In A Series of Lectures.  1877 edition.  Internet edition.           


38        Arno C. Gaebelein.  The Annotated Bible.  Internet edition.         


39        Joseph Parker.  The People's Bible.  Internet edition.       


40        Thomas Scott.  Commentary on the Bible.  Volume Six.  Fifth Edition.  London:  L. B. Seeley et al, 1822.           


41        Bernhard Weiss.  Commentary on the New Testament.  Volume Four.    New York:  Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1906.        


42        M. F. Sadler.  The General Epistles of SS James, Peter, John and Jude.  London:  George Bell and Sons, 1895. 


43        [Robert S. Hunt?]  The Cottage Commentary:  The Epistle to the Hebrews and the General Epistles.  London:  Joseph Masters, 1865.     

44        Charles Erdman.  The General Epistles:  An Exposition.  Philadelphia:  Westminster Press, 1918.      


45        W. H. Bennett.  The Century Bible:  The General Epistles—James, Peter, John, and Jude.  Edinburgh:  T. C. & E. C. Jack, 1901.     


46        John B. Sumner.  A Practical Exposition of the General Epistles of James, Peter, John, and Jude.  London:  J. Hatchard and Son, 1840.           


47        James C. Gray.  Biblical Museum:  Hebrews to the End of the New Testament.  London:  Elliot Stock, 1877. 


48        William G. Humphry.  A Commentary on the Revised Version of the New Testament.  London:  Cassel, Petter, Galpin & Company, 1882.    


49        Revere F. Weidner.  The Lutheran Commentary:  Annotations on the General Epistles of James, Peter, Peter, John, and Jude.  New York:  Christian Literature Company, 1897.           


50        A Short Protestant Commentary on the New Testament.  Volume 3.  Translated from the Third German Edition.  London:  Williams and Norgate, 1884. 


51        O. P. Eaches.  Clark’s Peoples Commentary:  I, II, and III John, Jude, and Revelation.  Boston:  American Baptist Publication Society, 1910.           


52        Henry A. Sawtelle.  Commentary on the Epistles of John.  Philadelphia:   American Baptist Publication Society, 1888.