Commandment: Love One Another
7 Brethren, I write no new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which you heard from the beginning. 8 Again, a new commandment I write to you, which thing is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining. 9 He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now. 10 He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. 11 But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes. 1 John 2:7-11.
John now turns his attention from commandments of God in general to the keeping of a specific command: love one another (2:7f). John did not come up with this commandment and neither was it new to the to them. Moses commanded, “You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord” (Lev. 19:18). Love one another is a commandment that is found in the Law of Moses. When Jesus spoke of the two greatest commandments. He combined Deut. 6:5 with Lev. 19:18 in Mark 12:28-34.
How is love both an old commandment and a new commandment? The Greek language had two words for “new.” One word meant new in regard to time. The other term for new meant new in character or quality. For example, the Ford Taurus is not a new model of car. However, a radically redesigned model can be new in quality. Loving one another is an old command that has been radically redesigned in the example of Christ.
His life and love are the standard now by which Christians must follow as an example. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35). Serval times the command to “love one another” is found in the New Testament before John wrote about it here (Rom. 13:8; 1 Thess. 4:9; 1 Peter. 1:22). From the beginning of their walk with Christ they have known of this commandment. Now as their love for God is being perfected by their obedience to Him, so their love for one another is new in quality by walking in the love of Christ or loving just as He loved.
This new quality of love is (not was) true in Jesus (2:8a). Jesus taught His disciples about loving their enemies (Matt. 5:43-45). He loved publicans and sinners (Luke 15:1). He proved His love to them by laying down is life for his friends (John 13). He showed is love for all sinners by dying for them while they were still enemies of God (Rom. 5:6-8). In the life of Christ, love for others takes on a whole new quality. He improved the length to which love will go, the degree it will be demonstrated, and the reach of its range. In the life of the Christian, loving one another continues to take all these qualities. So, love one another is not a new commandment in time but a command to be expressed in the way Christ obeyed it.
The reason for giving this new commandment is “because the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining” (2:8b). As Christians love one another, they are shining the light in this dark world. They are fulfilling the commandment of the Old Law (Rom. 13:8-10). They are showing this dark world that they are truly disciples of Christ and He does exist (John 13:35;17:23f). Because of Christ’s love and the saints following His example of love, the domain of the prince of Darkness, Satan, is being overcome by the Light of the World.
Just as John focused on the lie in verse four, He points out a specific example of such a deceptive claim in verse nine: “he who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now.” As walking in the light is love so hating another is walking in darkness. Proof of walking in the Light is to love not to hate another. Evidence of living in the darkness is found in hating another. A Christian is nothing without love. Paul wrote, “and though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing” (1 Cor. 13:2).
Just as there are blessings in abiding in the Word of God in general, one is blessed “who loves his brother” (2:10a). First, he “abides in the light” (2:10b). To be in the light is the same as being in Christ, in fellowship with him and truly knowing God. This speaks to a continued maturity in Christ. The second benefit of loving each other is “there is no cause for stumbling in him” (2:10c). To love another means to help not hinder. Loving others is promoting not demoting them. Love helps another up instead of knocking them down.
In contrast to loving one’s brother and the blessings which result, John points out three consequences of one “who hates his brother” (2:11a). First, he “is in darkness” (2:11b) He is not in the light but lives the realm of darkness. Second, he “walks in darkness” (2:11c). His life is a continuous walk in the dark where when stumbles and cause other to stumble over him and his hate. Finally, he “does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes” (2:11d). He walks in the realm of darkness and has no sense of direction (John 12:35).
Hate tends to blind men with prejudice or pre-judgment of people and the facts. As a result they do not perceive the direction they are headed. They may think they are walking toward the right goal, but in fact, they are headed strait to their own destruction. Haman in the book of Esther is a prime example of this. His hatred of Mordecai led him to hate all Jews and plan for their destruction. Little did he perceive that the gallows prepared for Mordecai was to be the means of his execution. And the final solution in removing the Jews was turned to a victory for God’s people over their enemies.
Loving one another is a choice not just a feeling. Loving one another is a result of our devotion to the commandment of God and not a result of an emotion felt for another person. Those who really know God will love others as Christ has loved.
Remain in the Teaching You Received
1 John 2:24-27: Therefore let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father. 25 And this is the promise that He has promised us—eternal life. 26 These things I have written to you concerning those who try to deceive you. 27 But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.
Remaining in Initial Teaching
“Therefore” in verse 24 denotes a corresponding line of thought as John focuses the reader’s attention on the teaching of God’s, Word the Gospel. The teaching of the Gospel is what they must remain in if they are to remain in Christ. It is the message they heard in the beginning or their conversion. Any other gospel must be rejected (Gal. 1:6-9).
Remaining Results in Abiding in God
If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father.
When the term “abide” is used it is the Greek word meno which means the continuous action of remaining in the Father.
Remaining Results in Eternal Life
Not only does one remain in God by remaining in the teaching of the Gospel, but the promise of eternal life is also given (2:25). To abandon the Truth of Christ is to lose God and eternal life. No doubt this is the greatest of promises and rewards. Belief in Christ is connected with eternal life throughout John’s Gospel (John 3:14,15;36; 6:40,47,57; 17:2-3).
Remaining Protects From Lies
The identity of “concerning those who try to deceive” (2:26) the saints are again the antichrists. Those Christians who are grounded in the truth do not need to fear the lies of the antichrists.
Remaining In Teaching is Sufficient
Again, John mentions the anointing which most believe is the Holy Spirit or by the Holy Spirit. For this study it is considered a reference to the Holy Spirit inspired Word they have heard and has been taught to them. It is so sufficient John told them “you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things” (2:27). The apostle Paul affirms this concerning the inspired scriptures (2 Tim. 3:16,17).
Remaining in Truth
The teachings are genuine and not a deception like the lies of the antichrists. By the original Gospel they will remain in a relationship with Christ.
– Daniel R. Vess