Life-Study of 1, 2, & 3 John, Judeby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In this message we shall consider verses 1 and 2 of chapter two.
In 2:1 John says, “My little children, these things I write to you that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous.” By using the expression “my little children” John was addressing all the believers regardless of age. The Greek word rendered “children” is teknia, plural of teknion, little child, diminutive of teknon, child, a word often used in addresses from elder to younger persons. “It is a term of parental affection. It applies to Christians irrespective of growth. Used in vv. 12, 28; 3:7, 18; 4:4; 5:21; John 13:33; Gal. 4:19” (Darby). The aged apostle considered all the recipients of his Epistle his dear little children in the Lord. In verses 13-27 he classified them into three groups: young children, young men, and fathers. Hence, verses 1-12 and 28-29 are addressed to all the recipients in general; verses 13-27 are addressed to the three groups respectively according to their growth in the divine life.
In 2:1 John tells the little children that he writes “these things” to them. These are the things mentioned in 1:5-10 regarding the committing of sin by the children of God, the regenerated believers, who have the divine life and participate in its fellowship (1:1-4).
John tells the recipients of this Epistle that he writes to them that they “may not sin.” These words and the words “if anyone sins” in the following sentence indicate that the regenerated believers may still sin. Though they possess the divine life, it is still possible for them to sin if they do not live by the divine life and abide in its fellowship. In Greek the word “sins” here is an aorist subjunctive and denotes a single act, not habitual action.
In the words “that you may not sin” we see John’s intention in what he writes concerning sin, the confessing of sins, and the receiving of God’s forgiveness and cleansing. John’s intention, his purpose, was that we would not sin. As he indicates in chapter one, if we sin, our fellowship with the Father will be broken. If we would maintain this fellowship, we need to keep ourselves from sinning. This is the main purpose of what John writes in chapter one of this Epistle.
In chapter one John shows us that we have received the divine life and that this life has brought us into the divine fellowship. In the divine fellowship we receive light, and now we should walk in the light as God is in the light (1:5,7). However, we need to realize that we still have the problem of indwelling sin, and regarding this sin we need to be on the alert. Even after our regeneration, the sin that came into the human race through Adam remains in our flesh. Although our spirit has been regenerated, God’s life has been imparted into our spirit, and God’s Spirit dwells in our spirit, nevertheless sin continues to dwell in our flesh. We need to admit the fact that we have dwelling in our flesh the sin that came into mankind through Adam. We also need to be on guard lest we commit sins. If we are not on the alert, we shall sin, and our sins will interrupt our fellowship with God. As a result of the breaking of our fellowship with Him, we shall lose the enjoyment of the divine life.
We may say that in chapter one we have a warning, a reminder, and a charge concerning our need to be on the alert. Yes, we have received the divine life, and the divine life is now our enjoyment, issuing in the fellowship with the Triune God. This is wonderful! But we need to realize that there is still the problem of indwelling sin. Because sin dwells in our flesh, there is always the possibility that our enjoyment of the divine life may be interrupted through the committing of sin.
If we do not realize that sin still dwells in our flesh but instead are deceived regarding this matter, we shall certainly sin. Then we shall lose the enjoyment of the divine life. Therefore, if we would remain in the enjoyment of the divine life and in the fellowship of the divine life, we need to realize that we have sin in our flesh and that sin is crouching, waiting for the opportunity to damage us, break our fellowship with the Triune God, and keep us from the enjoyment of the divine life received through regeneration.
Now we can see John’s purpose in writing chapter one. Because he did not want the believers to lose the enjoyment of the divine life, he told them in 2:1, “I write to you that you may not sin.” This was John’s intention and also his expectation. Moreover, this word is also a warning and a reminder concerning the committing of sin.
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