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The Epistles of John (Part 8): 1 John 2:7–8

by Stephen Hebert on Sunday - 18 February 2007

in Biblical Studies, New Testament

This is the eighth part in an ongoing series on the Epistles of John.

English Standard Version Nestle-Aland 27
Beloved, I am writing to you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard. At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. Ἀγαπητοί, οὐκ ἐντολὴν καινὴν γράφω ὑμῖν ἀλλ‘ ἐντολὴν παλαιὰν ἣν εἴχετε ἀπ‘ ἀρχῆς· ἡ ἐντολὴ ἡ παλαιὰ ἐστιν ὁ λόγος ὃν ἠκούσατε. πάλιν ἐντολὴν καινὴν γράφω ὑμῖν, ὅ ἐστιν ἀληθὲς ἐν αὐτῷ καὶ ἐν ὑμῖν, ὅτι ἡ σκοτία παράγεται καὶ τὸ φῶς τὸ ἀληθινὸν ἤδη φαίνει.

For me, this is a very confusing section. John is telling us that he isn’t writing a new commandment, but actually, as he admits, he is writing a new commandment. Which is it?

Well, if it’s not a new commandment, then it must be an old commandment. What is this old commandment? “The old commandment is the word that you have heard.”

We have already briefly hit on the “word of life” (1:1), and how this is connected to the Word (aka Jesus) from the prologue of the Gospel of John. The old commandment is probably connected to this. Since it is the word that we have heard, this old commandment must be the gospel message itself. In a way, it seems that the gospel is represented by the Word, which is personified by Jesus. Jesus, therefore, is the personification of the gospel.

Have I lost you yet?

I very much believe in Jesus. I don’t believe simply that he was a dude who walked around in the Middle East a couple of millennia ago. No, I believe that Jesus was resurrected and that we can have fellowship with him—we can have a relationship with him. John told us earlier that if we walk in the light we can have some kind of relationship with Jesus.

“The Old Commandment” is the Word. “The Old Commandment” is Jesus. John is writing to believers, to people who have already accepted Jesus, who have already accepted “the Old Commandment.”

At the same time, John is writing a new commandment. I’m not sure that we have quite caught this new commandment yet. It should come in future verses. Clearly, though, it seems like it will be connected to this motif of lightness and darkness.

Article Series - The Epistles of John

  1. The Epistles of John (Part 1): 1 John 1:1–4
  2. The Epistles of John (Part 2): 1 John 1:5
  3. The Epistles of John (Part 3): 1 John 1:6–7
  4. The Epistles of John (Part 4): 1 John 1:8–10
  5. The Epistles of John (Part 5): 1 John 2:1
  6. The Epistles of John (Part 6): 1 John 2:2
  7. The Epistles of John (Part 7): 1 John 2:3–6
  8. The Epistles of John (Part 8): 1 John 2:7–8
  9. The Epistles of John (Part 9): 1 John 2:9–11
  10. The Epistles of John (Part 10): 1 John 2:12
  11. The Epistles of John (Part 11): 1 John 2:13
  12. The Epistles of John (Part 12): 1 John 2:14
  13. The Epistles of John (Part 13): 1 John 2:15
  14. The Epistles of John (Part 14): 1 John 2:16
  15. The Epistles of John (Part 15): 1 John 2:17
  16. The Epistles of John (Part 16): 1 John 2:18
  17. The Epistles of John (Part 17): 1 John 2:19
  18. The Epistles of John (Part 18): 1 John 2:20
  19. The Epistles of John (Part 19): 1 John 2:21
  20. The Epistles of John (Part 20): 1 John 2:22
  21. The Epistles of John (Part 21): 1 John 2:23–25
  22. The Epistles of John (Part 22): 1 John 2:26–27
  23. The Epistles of John (Part 23): 1 John 2:28
  24. The Epistles of John (Part 24): 1 John 2:29
  25. The Epistles of John (Part 25): 1 John 3:1–3
  26. The Epistles of John (Part 26): 1 John 3:4–6
  27. The Epistles of John (Part 27): 1 John 3:7–10
  28. The Epistles of John (Part 28): 1 John 3:11–12
  29. The Epistles of John (Part 29): 1 John 3:13
  30. The Epistles of John (Part 30): 1 John 3:14-18
  31. The Epistles of John (Part 31): 1 John 3:19–22
  32. The Epistles of John (Part 32): 1 John 3:23–24
  33. The Epistles of John (Part 33): 1 John 4:1–3
  34. The Epistles of John (Part 34): 1 John 4:4–6
  35. The Epistles of John (Part 35): 1 John 4:7-8
  36. The Epistles of John (Part 36): 1 John 4:9
  37. The Epistles of John (Part 37): 1 John 4:10
  38. The Epistles of John (Part 38): 1 John 4:11-12
  39. The Epistles of John (Part 39): 1 John 4:13–14
  40. The Epistles of John (Part 40): 1 John 4:15
  41. The Epistles of John (Part 41): 1 John 4:16–17
  42. The Epistles of John (Part 42): 1 John 4:18–19
  43. The Epistles of John (Part 43): 1 John 4:20–21
  44. The Epistles of John (Part 44): 1 John 5:1
  45. The Epistles of John (Part 45): 1 John 5:2-3

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