1st John, Lesson 2: Love vs. Its Antitheses

Love vs. Hate

Read 1 John 2:1-6

Excursus: Hilosmos

Hilosmos: This is the Greek term, which the Septuagint (Greek translation of the Old Testament) used for the Atonement Cover on the Ark of the Covenant.  There, in the Old Covenant, the High Priest poured the blood of the sacrifices on the Ark, covering sin, represented by what was within theArk: Aaron’s budded rod, a jar of manna, and the Ten Commandments.

Aaron’s budded rod represented sins in the Church, when the people ofIsraelwanted to set up their own Priesthood, contrary to God’s institution (Numbers 17).  Manna represented the people grumbling against God’s provisioning for them.  The Ten Commandments represented the people’s failings in meeting God’s expectations for His people on how they were to believe, think, and live.

Tying into Jesus’ fulfillment of the Old Covenant, hilosmos tells how Jesus is our forgiveness.  In relation to sin, Jesus is our expiation, that is, He takes away our sin.  In relation to God, Jesus is our propitiation, that is, through Him, God is well-disposed toward us and looks on us with favor.

So, here and in 1 John 4:4, “expiation” would be the better translation since those verses deal with sin, not specifically our relation to God.


–          What is the relationship between knowing God and keeping (tereo) His commandments?


Excursus: Telios and Gnosticism

Telios: This word can be translated as perfect, completed, or finished.  With our “works righteous” view, we may think that John is saying that whoever keeps, guards, and cherishes God’s Word (message and Jesus) will have a sinless love toward God the Father (yes, in eternity, but not here).  Instead, John is saying that the love of God is completed, or realized, in that person.  If one has Jesus, then from the new self given him in baptism, one then follows God and His ways and also loves Him.

John was combating Gnostic thinking.  They claimed that knowledge of God did not require obeying God (because we are living in sinful flesh, which is evil) or having love for others (for they, too, are flesh, and so evil, corporeal beings).  To understand what John is saying, we need to understand the error he was denouncing.


Read 1 John 2:7-11

Leviticus 19:18: “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.”

–          In what way is the command to love an old command?


John 13:34-35: [Jesus said,] “I give you a new command: Love one another.  As I have loved you, you also are to love one another.  This is how everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

–          In what way is the command to love a new command?


–          Recognizing the Old Covenant has been fulfilled, and that we are living in the New Covenant awaiting eternity, why then is the darkness passing away and the true light is already shining?


Read 1 John 2:12-14

–          In these verses, what is the reality of what John is stating, potential or already realized?


–          Why was this so for John’s first readers, and why is this so for us?


The “Now” and the “Not Yet”

As Christians, we live in the “now” and in the “not yet” (Colossians 2:12, Ephesians 2:4-7, Matthew 25:34, Luke 22:28-29, and Romans 8:17).  In the “not yet,” although we have already died to sin in baptism, we do not yet live with Christ in glory.  Although we have endured suffering, we do not yet reign with Christ.  In the “now,” Colossians 2:12 says those who are baptized into Christ have already been buried with him and raised to new life with him–now!  And other passages speak of believers already having eternal life now.  Both the “now” and the “not yet” are true.  In this life, we live in the tension between promise and fulfillment, between the inception of God’s work in us at baptism and its completion on the Last Day.


Read 1 John 2:15-17

2 Corinthians 5:17: So then, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has gone, and look, the new is here!

–          What is the point John is making?


Love vs. Murder

Read 1 John 3:11-18

–          In these verses, with what does John equate hate?


–          How do we know what love is, that is, how does love express itself (vs. 16)?


Read 1 John 3:19-24

–          What should someone know when his heart condemns him for hating? (vs. 20)


–          To understand verse 22 properly, we must also understand verse 23.  What is John saying?


Abiding in Jesus

John Kleinig wrote:

If we “abide” in His Word, it does not just go in one ear and out the other; we memorize, retain, and keep paying attention to it.  By “abiding” in Christ’s Word, we “abide” in Him, staying in touch with Him, attached to Him, and receiving life from Him.  He, in turn, abides in us, staying with us and making Himself at home with us (John 15:4; see also John 6:56; 1 John 3:24).

By “abiding” in Him, His life-giving words “abide” in us, making us spiritually fruitful, like healthy branches on a good vine stock (John 15:7; see also 5:38; 1 John 2:14, 24).  We then abide in Christ’s Word by meditating on it in such a way that it keeps on speaking to us and doing its work in us.


Love vs. Fear

In this section, John finishes his focus on love.  He doesn’t focus as much on the opposites of love, but on love and how such love prepares us for eternity.

Read 1 John 4:7-12

–          Our love for others grows from what?


–          If no one has ever seen God (vs. 12), how then can others “see” Him?


Read 1 John 4:13-21

–          Someone who has the Holy Spirit, confesses what? (vs. 13-16)


–          How is John undercutting the tenets of Gnosticism?


–          If perfect love casts out fear, then how does such love within us prepare us for the Last Day?


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