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1 John 2 - Our Counselor and Atoning Sacrifice

INTRODUCTION: John continues his letter in chapter two with comments about the counselor (advocate, intercessor, or mediator) that believers have in Christ Jesus, who is also the only atoning sacrifice (propitiation) acceptable to God the Father to cancel the separation caused by the sin that besets all people in every generation. John also warns that there are many Antichrists already in the world, but the true Christian can avoid them, and wait confidently for the second coming of Christ.

NOTE: All Bible text is from the World English bible.


1 John 2 "1 My little children, I write these things to you so that you may not sin. If anyone sins, we have a Counsellor with the Father, Jesus Christ, the righteous. 2 And he is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the whole world."

COMMENTS: John tells us that he wrote this letter to equip the believer to be able to avoid those things that are contrary to God's commandments, but if we fail in some point, we have Christ to represent us before God the Father for forgiveness. A counselor in the legal sense is an advocate for one who has been accused of violating some portion of enacted law, and Christ Jesus is the only faultless counselor. Could anyone have a better counselor? Isaiah "9:6 For to us a child is born. To us a son is given; and the government will be on his shoulders. His name will be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."

The Greek word translated as counselor only this one time in John's letter as he tells us Jesus is our counselor, appears only four other times anywhere else in the bible, all of those in the gospel written by John. The KJV translates that Greek term as advocate in 1 John, and translates it all four times as comforter in the gospel of John. The WEB version translates all five occurrences as counsellor. John "14:15 If you love me, keep my commandments. 16 I will pray to the Father, and he will give you another counsellor, that he may be with you forever, 17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world can't receive; for it doesn't see him, neither knows him. You know him, for he lives with you, and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you orphans. I will come to you."

Some interesting points from the passage in the gospel of John: 1) Jesus said he would pray {as a counselor} to the Father, 2) the Father would give another counselor, the Spirit of truth, to be with his disciples forever, 3) Jesus said they already knew him, "for he lives with you {Jesus in the flesh}, and will be in you." 4) Jesus told his apostles that he would not leave them as orphans, {the only other use of the Greek term is translated as fatherless} because he would come to them. He had already been with them as the Son of God, he says he will come back so they will not be fatherless and they will have the Spirit of truth in them. This is the glory of the triune God!

Jesus knew that his death would cause them grief, but he told them, John "16:7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth: It is to your advantage that I go away, for if I don't go away, the counsellor won't come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you." When Jesus went away, it was to death on the cross to pay the penalty for sin in behalf of all who will accept him as their Savior; therefore it was absolutely essential that he leave his disciples at that time. He returned to the Father in heaven after his resurrection and sent the counselor as promised. The Holy Spirit could not be our defense counselor without the atonement (substitutionary sacrifice for sin) provided by Christ. Paul makes these comments, Romans "5:8 But God commends his own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we will be saved from God's wrath through him. 10 For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we will be saved by his life. 11 Not only so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation."


1 John 2 "3 This is how we know that we know him: if we keep his commandments. 4 One who says, "I know him," and doesn't keep his commandments, is a liar, and the truth isn't in him. 5 But whoever keeps his word, God's love has most certainly been perfected in him. This is how we know that we are in him: 6 he who says he remains in him ought himself also to walk just like he walked."

COMMENTS: The apostle John was very much influenced by the direct words of the Lord Jesus, and believed that true love of God must be demonstrated by keeping his commandments. John "15:9 Even as the Father has loved me, I also have loved you. Remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and remain in his love. 11 I have spoken these things to you, that my joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be made full. 12 "This is my commandment, that you love one another, even as I have loved you."

We are to walk as Jesus walked, and even the Old Testament scripture can express the heart's desire of the believer who knows the successful "walk" is dependent on the Lord's enabling power. Psalms "86:11 Teach me your way, Yahweh. I will walk in your truth. Make my heart undivided to fear your name." Another psalm assures us that the Lord knows our every weakness and that is love is sufficient to supply his righteousness to those who fear him. Psalms "103:13 Like a father has compassion on his children, so Yahweh has compassion on those who fear him. 14 For he knows how we are made. He remembers that we are dust. 15 As for man, his days are like grass. As a flower of the field, so he flourishes. 16 For the wind passes over it, and it is gone. Its place remembers it no more. 17 But Yahweh's loving kindness is from everlasting to everlasting with those who fear him, his righteousness to children's children; 18 to those who keep his covenant, to those who remember to obey his precepts."

Even in some of the more difficult times in our lives we might do well to consider the following passage for part of our prayers to the Lord. Psalms "143:8 Cause me to hear your loving kindness in the morning, for I trust in you. Cause me to know the way in which I should walk, for I lift up my soul to you."


1 John 2 "7 Brothers, I write no new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which you heard from the beginning. 8 Again, I write a new commandment to you, which is true in him and in you; because the darkness is passing away, and the true light already shines. 9 He who says he is in the light and hates his brother, is in the darkness even until now. 10 He who loves his brother remains in the light, and there is no occasion for stumbling in him. 11 But he who hates his brother is in the darkness, and walks in the darkness, and doesn't know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes."

COMMENTS: I wanted to bring in the "beginning" and "from the first" perspective from another gospel as the writer credits those who were eye witnesses. Luke "1:1 Since many have undertaken to set in order a narrative concerning those matters which have been fulfilled among us, 2 even as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word delivered them to us, 3 it seemed good to me also, having traced the course of all things accurately from the first, to write to you in order, most excellent Theophilus;"

John's gospel also addresses the beginning with Jesus who is the Word and the true light of life. John "1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him. Without him was not anything made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men."

John had opened this letter with this continuing theme that Jesus was from the beginning of all things. 1 John "1:1 That which was from the beginning, that which we have heard, that which we have seen with our eyes, that which we saw, and our hands touched, concerning the Word of life 2 (and the life was revealed, and we have seen, and testify, and declare to you the life, the eternal life, which was with the Father, and was revealed to us);" This next passage gives an Old Testament prophecy fulfilled about the coming of light that has the power to dissipate the shadow of death. Matthew "4:13 Leaving Nazareth, he came and lived in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14 that it might be fulfilled which was spoken through Isaiah the prophet, saying, 15 "The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, toward the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles, 16 the people who sat in darkness saw a great light, to those who sat in the region and shadow of death, to them light has dawned.""

Even the law given for the nation Israel required love of brothers. Leviticus "19:17 You shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall surely rebuke your neighbour, and not bear sin because of him. 18 You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people; but you shall love your neighbour as yourself. I am Yahweh." Jesus gave the great commandments as these, Mark "12:29 Jesus answered, "The greatest is, 'Hear, Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one: 30 you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.' This is the first commandment. 31 The second is like this, 'You shall love your neighbour as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these.""

God's truth is the light for our life with him. Psalms 4"3:3 Oh, send out your light and your truth. Let them lead me. Let them bring me to your holy hill, To your tents. 4 Then I will go to the altar of God, to God, my exceeding joy. I will praise you on the harp, God, my God." Jesus said those who live for God will want to walk in his light. John "3:20 For everyone who does evil hates the light, and doesn't come to the light, lest his works would be exposed. 21 But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his works may be revealed, that they have been done in God.""


1 John 2 "12 I write to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name's sake. 13 I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, little children, because you know the Father. 14 I have written to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God remains in you, and you have overcome the evil one. 15 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. 16 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. 17 The world is passing away with its lusts, but he who does God's will remains forever."

COMMENTS: John uses three categories to address his reading audience of believers as he begins this section. The little children have their sins forgiven for his name's sake and they know the Father. Twice John tells the fathers that they know him who is from the beginning. Twice he tells the young men that they have overcome the evil one, and the second time he adds that they are strong, and the word of God remains in them. John continues by saying that love of the things this present world has to offer is contrary to having the love of God within. The love of the world is manifested by the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, which is not from God but from the world. The world is passing away but those who do God's will remain forever!

Believers are not of this world but are already part of the everlasting kingdom of God. Luke "17:20 Being asked by the Pharisees when the Kingdom of God would come, he answered them, "The Kingdom of God doesn't come with observation; 21 neither will they say, 'Look, here!' or, 'Look, there!' for behold, the Kingdom of God is within you."" Paul says this about the kingdom, Romans "14:17 for the Kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit."

We must begin as little children regardless of our age, and then grow in our faith received by grace. Luke "18:17 Most certainly, I tell you, whoever doesn't receive the Kingdom of God like a little child, he will in no way enter into it." John "3:3 Jesus answered him, "Most certainly, I tell you, unless one is born anew, he can't see the Kingdom of God." 4 Nicodemus said to him, "How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb, and be born?" 5 Jesus answered, "Most certainly I tell you, unless one is born of water and spirit, he can't enter into the Kingdom of God! 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh. That which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Don't marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born anew.'"


1 John 2 "18 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. 19 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. 20 You have an anointing from the Holy one, and you all have knowledge. 21 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. 22 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. 23 Whoever denies the Son, the same doesn't have the Father. He who confesses the Son has the Father also. 24 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. 25 This is the promise which he promised us, the eternal life. 26 These things I have written to you concerning those who would lead you astray. 27 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."

COMMENTS: John may be using the phrase little children as an affectionate preface to making the points that follow. Since Christ has appeared and provided the way of salvation to eternal life, it continues to be available to all generations from that time. Since John wrote that his original readers were already in the end times, and his writing still applies, this should not be confused with the day of the Lord as provided in other scriptures.

Some of those include additional characteristics of the reappearing of Christ. 2 Thessalonians "2:1 Now, brothers, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together to him, we ask you 2 not to be quickly shaken in your mind, nor yet be troubled, either by spirit, or by word, or by letter as from us, saying that the day of Christ had come. 3 Let no one deceive you in any way. For it will not be, unless the departure comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of destruction, 4 he who opposes and exalts himself against all that is called God or that is worshipped; so that he sits as God in the temple of God, setting himself up as God. 5 Don't you remember that, when I was still with you, I told you these things?"

The apostle Peter also wrote about the day of the Lord explaining that the Lord's mercy could greatly prolong his coming. 2 Peter "3:8 But don't forget this one thing, beloved, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slow concerning his promise, as some count slowness; but is patient with us, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fervent heat, and the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. 11 Therefore since all these things will be destroyed like this, what kind of people ought you to be in holy living and godliness, 12 looking for and earnestly desiring the coming of the day of God, which will cause the burning heavens to be dissolved, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? 13 But, according to his promise, we look for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells. 14 Therefore, beloved, seeing that you look for these things, be diligent to be found in peace, without blemish and blameless in his sight."

The word Antichrist (antichristos in the Greek) appears in only four verses in all of scripture: three in 1 John and one in 2 John. The definition John provides should constrain us in the way we interpret or apply his message about Antichrists, especially since the first thing he says is that many had already arisen at the time of his writing. Other terms in scripture, such as false Christs or the man of sin, should be considered in the context where they appear because they more likely are related to the return of Christ. The next thing John says about the Antichrists is "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." So we must be careful about even those who claim to be teachers for the church.

The apostle Paul gave this warning, Acts "20:28 Take heed, therefore, to yourselves, and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the assembly of the Lord and God which he purchased with his own blood. 29 For I know that after my departure, vicious wolves will enter in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Men will arise from among your own selves, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them."

John says those who claim to be Christians are liars if they deny that Jesus is the Christ. Anyone who denies the Father and the Son is Antichrist, and whoever denies the Son, the same doesn't have the Father. In other words, if you don't accept that Jesus Christ is God, then you are not a child of God. John says the child of God holds on to the truth about Christ from when they first believed that he is God the Savior. By this we remain in the Son and in the Father, and we have the promise which he promised us, the eternal life. These things John wrote concerning the many Antichrists who could lead people away from the truth.

John had started this letter affirming that Jesus was eternal God, and that he also appeared on earth in the flesh, not in some immaterial form. 1 John "1:1 That which was from the beginning, that which we have heard, that which we have seen with our eyes, that which we saw, and our hands touched, concerning the Word of life 2 (and the life was revealed, and we have seen, and testify, and declare to you the life, the eternal life, which was with the Father, and was revealed to us); 3 that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us. Yes, and our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son, Jesus Christ."

John concludes this section by assuring the Christian that God has given an anointing and says, "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." Paul gave us a similar assurance. 2 Corinthians "1:21 Now he who establishes us with you in Christ, and anointed us, is God; 22 who also sealed us, and gave us the down payment of the Spirit in our hearts."


1 John 2 "28 Now, little children, remain in him, that when he appears, we may have boldness, and not be ashamed before him at his coming. 29 If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of him."

COMMENTS: Now John talks about the second coming of Christ, and the reward that should be the great expectation of all Christians. He does not develop detail here about signs that will precede the return of Christ. He does however, again employ "little children" as his form of address. After John had just said in verse 27 that the anointing from Christ will remain in the believer, he begins this passage by exhorting the believer to likewise remain in Christ.

This is a call to righteous living, but only through the power supplied by the Lord. Paul wrote this to the church at Colossi. Colossians "3:1 If then you were raised together with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated on the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are on the earth. 3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, our life, is revealed, then you will also be revealed with him in glory."

Through Adam we were born into sin, but through Christ we receive the gift of his righteousness. Romans "5:17 For if by the trespass of the one, death reigned through the one; so much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one, Jesus Christ."


Heavenly Father, I thank you that Jesus is able to perfectly represent me before you because his atoning sacrifice first paid the penalty for my sin that would otherwise prevent my reconciliation to you. Thank you Lord Jesus that you are a tender counselor because of the great love you proved on the cross. You came to live within me as the seal of my salvation, and as the enabling power to allow me to keep your commandments. Lord, the light you brought into the world has exposed the dark side of my heart, and has shown me by your example that there is no greater love than to give of one's life for another. I accept your truth that if I truly love you I will love my brother. By showing that love in a practical manner, I want to continue in you Lord as you continue in me. I pray that you will remove from me any unrighteous desires for the things of this world, knowing that all of this will pass away and only the elements of your kingdom will remain. Thank you for guiding John by your Spirit to write about the identifying characteristics of the many Antichrists who malign the truth about the God-man Christ Jesus. I want to remain firmly confident in your love to the end of my life that I may rejoice at your return with all others who eagerly await your appearing. Amen.

Published 29 June 2011