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 previous messages we have covered the first two sections of this Epistle: the fellowship of the divine life (1:1— 2:11) and the teaching of the divine anointing (2:12-27). In this message we come to the third section: the virtues of the divine birth (2:28—5:21). The sequence here is very significant. First, John shows us that in the divine life there is the enjoyment of fellowship, and in this fellowship we enjoy the teaching of the anointing. Following this, John writes concerning the virtues of the divine birth. According to 2:28—3:10a, the virtues of the divine birth are for the practice of the divine righteousness.
First John 2:28 says, “And now, little children, abide in Him, that if He is manifested, we may have boldness and not be put to shame from Him at His coming.” The pronoun “Him” in this verse refers to the Father and the Son. This means that “Him” actually refers to the Triune God. Hence, to abide in Him is to abide in the Father, the Son, and the Spirit.
The pronoun “He” in the phrase “He is manifested,” according to the context, must refer to the Son. This understanding is supported by the phrase “at His coming,” found at the end of the verse. Here John is saying that if the Son is manifested, we may have boldness and not be put to shame from Him at His coming.
In verse 29 John continues, “If you have known that He is righteous, you know also that everyone who practices righteousness has been begotten of Him.” “He” here denotes the Triune God, the Father, the Son, and the Spirit, all-inclusively, because it refers to “He” and “Him” in the preceding verse, which denote the coming Son, and it also denotes “Him” in this verse, referring to the Father who has begotten us. This indicates strongly that the Son and the Father are one (John 10:30). The pronoun “He” refers both to the Son who is coming and to the Father who has begotten us. It is the Father, not the Son, who has begotten us, but it is the Son, not the Father, who is coming.
In this verse “He” as a pronoun serves two purposes, referring both to Him (the Son) who is coming and also to Him (the Father) who has begotten us. Are the Father and the Son one or two? The best answer to this question is to say that They are two-one. He is both the One who will come and the One who has begotten. As the begetting One, He is the Father; and as the coming One, He is the Son.
In 2:28 the apostle John says, “And now, little children, abide in Him.” The word that begins in 2:13, to the three different classes of recipients, ends in verse 27. Now verse 28 returns to all the recipients. For this reason, the address is again to the “little children,” as in verses 1 and 12.
The word addressed to the three groups of recipients in 2:13-27 concludes in the charge to “abide in Him” as the anointing has taught us. In this section, from 2:28 through 3:24, the apostle continues to describe the life that abides in the Lord. It begins (2:28), continues (3:6), and ends (3:24) with “abide in Him.”
As we have pointed out, here the pronoun “He” refers definitely to Christ the Son, who is coming. This, with the preceding clause, “abide in Him,” which is a repetition of the clause in verse 27 involving the Trinity, indicates that the Son is the embodiment of the Triune God, inseparable from the Father or the Spirit.
In verse 28 John says that if we abide in Him, “we may have boldness and not be put to shame from Him at His coming.” The Greek words translated “at His coming” literally mean “in His presence” (parousia). John’s word about not being put to shame indicates that some believers who do not abide in the Lord (that is, do not remain in the fellowship of the divine life according to pure faith in Christ’s Person), but are led astray by the heretical teachings concerning Christ (v. 26), will be punished by being put to shame from Him, from His glorious parousia.
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