1 John 2:1
My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:
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(4) The third idea that arises from the great fact that God is Light has already been suggested (1John 1:7), but now takes its distinct place in the series. It is the doctrine of Reconciliation and Redemption. St. John does not wish them to contemplate with complacency the probability of sinning; but to remember gratefully, in spite of falls, that the Author and Restorer of Light has provided a remedy both for the offence before God, and for its effect on themselves. First comes the principle that we must not sin; second, the admission that we do sin; third, the consolation for actual sin when it is in spite of sincere zeal for sanctification.

(1) My little children.—Six times in the letter occurs this diminutive of tender and caressing love: 1John 2:12; 1John 2:28; 1John 3:18; 1John 4:4; 1John 5:21. He was aged, he felt a fatherly care for them, he was their spiritual progenitor. (Comp. Galatians 4:9.) The thought of the shame and misery of sin melted his heart. “My child” was what he called out to the lapsed youth, according to Eusebius (H. E. iii. 23).

These things.—He carries them on through the former points up to the new thought.

That ye sin not.—Another side of the object of the teaching: their joy could not be full unless they were earnest against sin. And yet the most holy would not be perfect.

If any man sin.—See 1John 1:8-10.

We have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.—The word here translated Advocate was translated Comforter in John 14:16; John 14:25; John 15:26; John 16:7. It has two meanings; one, as in Job 16:2, he who comforts, or exhorts; the other, as here, he who is appealed to—a proxy, or attorney. (Comp. Romans 8:26; Hebrews 4:14-16; Hebrews 7:25.) The Redeemer, the Word made flesh, and reascended with His human nature, is that part of the Deity which assures us of the ever-active vitality of divine love. If the justice of God is connected most with the Father, the mercy is pledged by the Son. He has exalted our nature, undertaken our interests, presents our prayers, and will one day be surrounded by the countless millions of His human brothers whom He has rescued, wearing the same nature as Himself. He is represented as continuing our advocate, because otherwise His work might appear a mere separate earthly manifestation; “righteous,” because Christ, the only blameless example of human nature, can alone intercede for it with God (Hebrews 7:26; 1Peter 3:18; John 16:8-10). The Armenian translation actually adds “and blameless.” Augustine remarks that St. John did not set forth any apostle or saint as intercessor (here, if anywhere, he would have done so), but only Christ. “We” is not the Church corporately, but merely another instance of St. John’s kindly delicacy, as in 1John 1:6, &c.

(2) And he is the propitiation for our sins.—On the word “propitiation,” see the Introduction. By the satisfaction which the voluntary sacrifice of the Saviour offered to that divine order which requires the punishment of rebellion, both for its own correction and for a universal warning, the whole Deity has been rendered propitious, His graciousness has been called out, the righteousness of Romans 3:16 has been set in motion, that willeth not the death of a sinner, and is higher than mere retributive justice. (Comp. 1John 4:10; John 14:5-6; 1Corinthians 1:30; 2Corinthians 5:18; 2Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 2:17; Hebrews 9:28; Hebrews 10:20; 1Peter 2:21-24.)

And not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.—This statement must not be limited. Its scope is that Christ’s redemption was offered for the whole of mankind, from Adam to the last man. Who lay hold of the redemption, must be determined on other considerations. (Comp. 1John 4:14; John 1:29; John 4:42.) Multitudes may be saved through this redemption who never heard of Christ (Acts 10:34-35; Romans 2:14-15). St. John’s object in introducing this truth here is to rebuke the arrogance of those Christians who looked down on the non-Christian world as outside the Fatherhood and mercies of God. Such an error might be seen, for example, in the heated partisanship of a Crusader or persecutor for a civilisation politically Christian against one outside his own sympathies. (Comp. Titus 3:2-7; Romans 11:17-18.)

1 John 2:1-2. My little children — So the apostle frequently addresses the whole body of Christians, and so our Lord himself addressed his disciples, John 13:33. It is a tender and affectionate appellation, denoting paternal authority, love, and concern, which, in the character of an apostle, St. John might have used in any period of his life; but as used in this epistle, it seems to imply, together with apostolical authority, the apostle’s advanced age. It is a different word from that which is translated little children, in several parts of the epistle, to distinguish it from which, it may here be rendered beloved children. These things write I unto you, that ye sin not — Thus he guards them beforehand against abusing the doctrine of reconciliation. All the words, institutions, and judgments of God, are levelled against sin, either that it may not be committed, or that it may be abolished. And if any man sin — Let him not lie in sin, despairing of help; for we have an Advocate — We have for our Advocate not a mean person, but Him of whom it was said, This is my beloved Son; not a guilty person, who stands in need of pardon for himself; but Jesus Christ the righteous — Not a mere petitioner, who relies purely upon liberality, but one that has merited, fully merited, whatever he asks. And he is the propitiation — The atoning sacrifice, through the merit of which our sins are pardoned when we repent and believe in him. The word ιλασμος, here rendered propitiation, is nowhere found in the New Testament, but in this passage, and 1 John 4:10. But it occurs often in the Septuagint translation of the Old Testament, where it signifies a sacrifice of atonement. Thus, Leviticus 6:6-7; Numbers 5:8, κριος ιλασμου, is a ram for a sin- offering. And Ezekiel 44:27, προδφερειν ιλαδμον, is, to offer a sin- offering. “In considering the death of Christ as a sacrifice for sin, St. John, like the other apostles, followed his Master, who, in the institution of his supper, directed his disciples to consider it as designed to bring to their remembrance his blood shed for many for the remission of sins.” For our sins — Who believe; and not for our sins only, but also for the sins of the whole world — Just as wide as sin extends, the propitiation extends also.

2:1,2 When have an Advocate with the Father; one who has undertaken, and is fully able, to plead in behalf of every one who applies for pardon and salvation in his name, depending on his pleading for them. He is Jesus, the Saviour, and Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed. He alone is the Righteous One, who received his nature pure from sin, and as our Surety perfectly obeyed the law of God, and so fulfilled all righteousness. All men, in every land, and through successive generations, are invited to come to God through this all-sufficient atonement, and by this new and living way. The gospel, when rightly understood and received, sets the heart against all sin, and stops the allowed practice of it; at the same time it gives blessed relief to the wounded consciences of those who have sinned.My little children - Τεκνια μοῦ Teknia mou. This is such language as an aged apostle would be likely to use when addressing a church, and its use in this Epistle may be regarded as one evidence that John had reached an advanced period of life when he wrote the Epistle.

These things write I unto you - To wit, the things stated in 1 John 1:1.

That ye sin not - To keep you from sin, or to induce you to lead a holy life.

And if any man sin - As all are liable, with hearts as corrupt as ours, and amidst the temptations of a world like this, to do. This, of course, does not imply that it is proper or right to sin, or that Christians should have no concern about it; but the meaning is, that all are liable to sin, and when we are conscious of sin the mind should not yield to despondency and despair. It might be supposed, perhaps, that if one sinned after baptism, or after being converted, there could be no forgiveness. The apostle designs to guard against any such supposition, and to show that the atonement made by the Redeemer had respect to all kinds of sin, and that under the deepest consciousness of guilt and of personal unworthiness, we may feel that we have an advocate on high.

We have an advocate with the Father - God only can forgive sin; and though we have no claim on him, yet there is one with him who can plead our cause, and on whom we can rely to manage our interests there. The word rendered "advocate" (παράκλητος paraklētos - paraclete) is elsewhere applied to the Holy Spirit, and is in every other place where it occurs in the New Testament rendered "comforter," John 14:16, John 14:26; John 15:26; John 16:7. On the meaning of the word, see the notes at John 14:16. As used with reference to the Holy Spirit (John 14:16, et al.) it is employed in the more general sense of "helper," or "aid;" and the particular manner in which the Holy Spirit aids us, may be seen stated in the notes at John 14:16. As usual here with reference to the Lord Jesus, it is employed in the more limited sense of the word "advocate," as the word is frequently used in the Greek writers to denote an advocate in court; that is, one whom we call to our aid; or to stand by us, to defend our suit. Where it is applied to the Lord Jesus, the language is evidently figurative, since there can be no literal pleading for us in heaven; but it is expressive of the great truth that he has undertaken our cause with God, and that he performs for us all that we expect of an advocate and counselor. It is not to be supposed, however, that he manages our cause in the same way, or on the same principles on which an advocate in a human tribunal does. An advocate in court is employed to defend his client. He does not begin by admitting his guilt, or in any way basing his plea on the conceded fact that he is guilty; his proper business is to show that he is not guilty, or, if he be proved to be so, to see that no injustice shall be done him. The proper business of an advocate in a human court, therefore, embraces two things:

(1) To show that his client is not guilty in the form and manner charged on him. This he may do in one of two ways, either,

(a) by showing that he did not do the act charged on him, as when he is charged with murder, and can prove an alibi, or show that he was not present at the time the murder was committed; or,

(b) by proving that he had a right to do the deed - as, if he is charged with murder, he may admit the fact of the killing, but may show that it was in self-defense.

(2) In case his client is convicted, his office is to see that no injustice is done to him in the sentence; to stand by him still; to avail himself of all that the law allows in his favor, or to state any circumstance of age, or sex, or former service, or bodily health, which would in any way mitigate the sentence.

The advocacy of the Lord Jesus in our behalf, however, is wholly different from this, though the same general object is pursued and sought, the good of those for whom he becomes an advocate. The nature of his advocacy may be stated in the following particulars:

(1) He admits the guilt of those for whom he becomes the advocate, to the full extent charged on them by the law of God, and by their own consciences. He does not attempt to hide or conceal it. He makes no apology for it. He neither attempts to deny the fact, nor to show that they had a right to do as they have done. He could not do this, for it would not be true; and any plea before the throne of God which should be based on a denial of our guilt would be fatal to our cause.

(2) as our advocate, he undertakes to be security that no wrong shall be done to the universe if we are not punished as we deserve; that is, if we are pardoned, and treated as if we had not sinned. This he does by pleading what he has done in behalf of people; that is, by the plea that his sufferings and death in behalf of sinners have done as much to honor the law, and to maintain the truth and justice of God, and to prevent the extension of apostasy, as if the offenders themselves had suffered the full penalty of the law. If sinners are punished in hell, there will be some object to be accomplished by it; and the simple account of the atonement by Christ is, that his death will secure all the good results to the universe which would be secured by the punishment of the offender himself. It has done as much to maintain the honor of the law, and to impress the universe with the truth that sin cannot be committed with impunity. If all the good results can be secured by substituted sufferings which there would be by the punishment of the offender himself, then it is clear that the guilty may be acquitted and saved. Why should they not be? The Saviour, as our advocate, undertakes to be security that this shall be.

(3) as our advocate, he becomes a surety for our good behavior; gives a pledge to justice that we will obey the laws of God, and that he will keep us in the paths of obedience and truth; that, if pardoned, we will not continue to rebel. This pledge or surety can be given in no human court of justice. No man, advocate or friend can give security when one is pardoned who has been convicted of stealing a horse, that he will not steal a horse again; when one who has been guilty of murder is pardoned, that he will never be guilty of it again; when one who has been guilty of forgery is pardoned, that he will not be guilty of it again. If he could do this, the subject of pardon would be attended with much fewer difficulties than it is now. But the Lord Jesus becomes such a pledge or surety for us, Hebrews 7:22, and hence he becomes such an advocate with the Father as we need.

Jesus Christ the righteous - One who is eminently righteous himself, and who possesses the means of rendering others righteous. It is an appropriate feeling when we come before God in his name, that we come pleading the merits of one who is eminently righteous, and on account of whose righteousness we may be justified and saved.


1Jo 2:1-29. The Advocacy of Christ Is Our Antidote to Sin While Walking in the Light; for to Know God, We Must Keep His Commandments and Love the Brethren, and Not Love the World, Nor Give Heed to Antichrists, against Whom Our Safety Is through the Inward Anointing of God to Abide in God: So at Christ's Coming We Shall Not Be Ashamed.

1. (1Jo 5:18.)

My little children—The diminutive expresses the tender affection of an aged pastor and spiritual father. My own dear children, that is, sons and daughters (see on [2639]1Jo 2:12).

these things—(1Jo 1:6-10). My purpose in writing what I have just written is not that you should abuse them as giving a license to sin but, on the contrary, "in order that ye may not sin at all" (the Greek aorist, implying the absence not only of the habit, but of single acts of sin [Alford]). In order to "walk in the light" (1Jo 1:5, 7), the first step is confession of sin (1Jo 1:9), the next (1Jo 2:1) is that we should forsake all sin. The divine purpose has for its aim, either to prevent the commission of, or to destroy sin [Bengel].

And, &c.—connected with the former; Furthermore, "if any man sin," let him, while loathing and condemning it, not fear to go at once to God, the Judge, confessing it, for "we have an Advocate with Him." He is speaking of a BELIEVER'S occasional sins of infirmity through Satan's fraud and malice. The use of "we" immediately afterwards implies that we all are liable to this, though not necessarily constrained to sin.

we have an advocate—Advocacy is God's family blessing; other blessings He grants to good and bad alike, but justification, sanctification, continued intercession, and peace, He grants to His children alone.

advocate—Greek, "paraclete," the same term as is applied to the Holy Ghost, as the "other Comforter"; showing the unity of the Second and Third Persons of the Trinity. Christ is the Intercessor for us above; and, in His absence, here below the Holy Ghost is the other Intercessor in us. Christ's advocacy is inseparable from the Holy Spirit's comfort and working in us, as the spirit of intercessory prayer.

righteous—As our "advocate," Christ is not a mere suppliant petitioner. He pleads for us on the ground of justice, or righteousness, as well as mercy. Though He can say nothing good of us, He can say much for us. It is His righteousness, or obedience to the law, and endurance of its full penalty for us, on which He grounds His claim for our acquittal. The sense therefore is, "in that He is righteous"; in contrast to our sin ("if any man sin"). The Father, by raising Him from the dead, and setting Him at His own right, has once for all accepted Christ's claim for us. Therefore the accuser's charges against God's children are vain. "The righteousness of Christ stands on our side; for God's righteousness is, in Jesus Christ, ours" [Luther].1Jo 2:1,2 Christ is our advocate with the Father, and a

propitiation for the sins of the whole world.

1Jo 2:3-6 Rightly to know God is to keep his commandments,

1Jo 2:7-11 the chief of which is, to love one another.

1Jo 2:12-14 The apostle addresseth Christians of all ages severally,

1Jo 2:15-17 and warneth them against an inordinate love of this world,

1Jo 2:18,19 and against deceivers, who were many.

1Jo 2:20-28 He showeth the means they had of knowing the truth,

and of distinguishing false teachers; and pointeth

out their obligation to abide in the truth which they

had been taught,

1Jo 2:29 he that doeth righteousness is born of God.

He endeavours in this to steer them a middle course, that they might neither presume to sin, nor despair if they did; and bespeaks them with a compellation, importing both authority and love; well becoming him as then an aged person, an apostle, their teacher, and who was their most affectionate spiritual father. And lets them know, the first design of what he was now writing (had hitherto written, and was further to write) was: That they might to their uttermost avoid sinning at all: but adds, if, through human frailty, they did sin,

we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; implying our need of Christ for renewed as well as first pardon; and not of his death only, but continual intercession; and represents the advantages Christ hath for success in his interposing for us, in respect both of his relation to God as his Father, (which is put indefinitely,

the Father, that the consideration might not be excluded of his being our Father also), and his righteousness, by which he could not but be acceptable to him.

My little children,.... The apostle may address the saints under this character, on account of their regeneration by the Spirit and grace of God, in which they were as newborn babes; and on account of his being the instrument of their conversion, and so was their spiritual father, and therefore calls them his own children; and he might the rather use such a way of speaking, because of his advanced age, being now in his old age, and John the elder in age as well as in office; as well as to show his paternal affection for them, and care of them, and that what he had wrote, or should write, was not from any disrespect, but from pure love to them; and it might serve to put them in mind of their weakness in faith, in knowledge, and spiritual strength, that they might not entertain high notions of themselves, as if they were perfect and without infirmities; and it is easy to observe, that this is one of Christ's expressions, John 13:33, from whose lips the apostle took it, whose words and phrases he greatly delighted in, as he seems to do in this, by his frequent use of it; see 1 John 2:18.

These things write I unto you; concerning the purity and holiness of God, who is light itself; concerning fellowship with him, which no one that lives in sin can have; concerning pardon and cleansing from sin by the blood of Christ, and concerning sin being in them, and they not without it. The Ethiopic version reads, "we write", as in 1 John 1:4;

that ye sin not; not that he thought they could be entirely without it, either without the being of it, or the commission of it, in thought, word, or deed, for this would be to suppose that which is contrary to his own words, in 1 John 1:8; but he suggests that the end of his writing on these subjects was, that they might not live in sin, and indulge themselves in a vicious course of living, give up themselves to it, and walk in it, and work it with all greediness: and nothing could be more suitably adapted to such an end than the consideration of the holiness of God, who calls by his grace; and of the necessity of light and grace and holiness in men to communion with him; and of the pardoning grace of God and cleansing blood of Christ, which, when savingly applied, sets men against sin, and makes them zealous of good works; and of the indwelling of sin in the saints, which puts them upon their guard against it:

and if any man sin; as every man does, even everyone that is in the light, and walks in it, and has fellowship with God; everyone that believes in Christ, and is justified through his righteousness, and pardoned by his blood; everyone of the little children; for the apostle is not speaking of mankind in general who sin, for Christ is not an advocate for all that sin, but of these in particular; hence the Arabic version renders it, "if any of you sin"; and this, with the following, he says not to encourage in sin, but to comfort under a sense of it:

we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; Christ is an advocate, not for just or righteous persons, for as he came not to call these to repentance, nor to die for them, so such have no need of an advocate, nor is he one for them; but as he came to call sinners, and to save them, and died for them, the just for the unjust, so he is an advocate, and makes intercession for transgressors; and not for all men, though they have all sinned; not for the world, or those so called in distinction from the persons given him by his Father, for these he prays not; but for all the elect, and whatsoever charges are brought against them he answers to them, and for them; and for all that believe in him, be they weak or strong, even for the apostles as well as others; for they were not without sin, were men of like passions as others, and carried about with them a body of sin, and had their daily infirmities, and so needed an advocate as others; and hence John says, "we have an advocate", &c. but then Christ is not an advocate for sin, though for sinners; he does not vindicate the commission of sin, or plead for the performance of it; he is no patron of iniquity; nor does he deny that his clients have sinned, or affirm that their actions are not sins; he allows in court all their sins, with all their aggravated circumstances; nor does he go about to excuse or extenuate them; but he is an advocate for the non-imputation of them, and for the application of pardon to them: he pleads in their favour, that these sins have been laid upon him, and he has bore them; that his blood has been shed for the remission of them, and that he has made full satisfaction for them; and therefore in justice they ought not to be laid to their charge; but that the forgiveness of them should be applied unto them, for the relief and comfort of their burdened and distressed consciences: and for this he is an advocate for his poor sinning people "with the Father"; who being the first Person, and the Son the advocate, and the Spirit sustaining a like character, is only mentioned; and he being God against whom sin is committed, and to whom the satisfaction is made; and the rather, as he is the Father of Christ, and of those for whom he is an advocate; seeing it may be concluded that his pleadings will be with success, since he is not only related to him, and has an interest in him himself, but the persons also, whose patron he is, are related to him, and have a share in his paternal affection and care: moreover, this phrase, as it expresses the distinct personality of Christ from the Father, so his being with him in heaven at his right hand, and nearness to him; where he discharges this office of his, partly by appearing in person for his people in the presence of God; and partly by carrying in and presenting their confessions of sin, and their prayers for the fresh discoveries and applications of pardoning grace, which he offers up to his Father with the sweet incense of his mediation; and chiefly by pleading the virtue of his blood, righteousness, and sacrifice, which are carried within the vail, and are always in sight, and call aloud for peace and pardon; as also by answering and removing the charges and accusations of the court adversary, the accuser of the brethren, the devil; as well as by the declarations of his will, demanding in point of justice, in consideration of his sufferings and death, that such and such blessings be bestowed upon his people, as pardon, righteousness, grace, and supplies of grace, and at last glory; and by applying these benefits to their souls as a "comforter", which the word here used also signifies, and is so rendered, John 14:16; and by the Arabic version here. Now the saints have but one advocate, and that is enough for them; the apostle does not say we have advocates, but "an advocate"; not angels, nor saints departed, but Jesus Christ only, who is the one Mediator between God and man, 1 Timothy 2:5, and he is a continual one, he ever lives to make intercession; his blood is always speaking, and he always pleading; and therefore it is said "we have", not we have had, or we shall have an advocate and he is a prevalent one, he is always heard, he thoroughly pleads the cause he undertakes, and ever carries it; which is owing to the dignity of his person, his interest with his Father, and the virtue and value of his sacrifice: and he every way fit for such a work, for he is "righteous"; not only in his natures, both divine and human, but in his office, as Mediator, which he faithfully and righteously performs; he is a very proper person to plead for guilty persons, which he could not do if he himself was guilty; but he is so holy and righteous that nothing can be objected to him by God; and it need not be doubted by men that he will act the faithful part to them, and righteously serve them and their cause; and it is moreover his righteousness which he has wrought out, and is imputed to them, that carries the cause for them; and therefore this character of Christ fitly added, as is also the following. The Jews (i) have adopted the word in the text into their language, but have applied it to a different purpose, to alms deeds, repentance, and good works. Much more agreeably Philo the Jew (k) speaks of the son of perfect virtue, "as an advocate" for the forgiveness of sins, and for a supply of everlasting good things.

(i) Pirke Abot, c. 4. sect. 11. T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 32. 1. T. Bab. Bava Bathra, fol. 10. 1.((k) De Vita Mosis, l. iii. p. 673.

My {1} little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an {a} advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:

(1) It does not follow that we must give our wicked nature free rein, or sin much more freely, because our sins are cleansed by the blood of Christ, but we must rather much more diligently resist sin, and yet we must not despair because of our weakness, for we have an advocate and a purger, Christ Jesus the Just, and therefore acceptable to his Father.

(a) In that be names Christ, he eliminates all others.

1 John 2:1. The apostle had considered, in chap. 1 John 1:7, the blood of Christ, in 1 John 1:9 the faithfulness and justice of God—and both in reference to the forgiveness and purification of believers; now he comfortingly points to Christ as the Paraclete, whereby the previous thought now obtains its necessary complement. First, however, he mentions the object of his previous statement.

Τεκνία μου] Similarly chap. 1 John 3:18; without μου, 1 John 2:12; 1 John 2:28, 1 John 3:7. John chooses this form of address: tum propter aetatem suam, tum propter paternam curam, et affectum (Hornejus). In regard to the verbal form, Lorinus rightly says: diminutiva nomina teneri ac blandientis sunt amoris signa. The Apostle Paul, in Galatians 4:19, uses the same form of address, with special reference to the spiritual fatherhood in which he stood toward his readers.

ταῦτα γράφω ὑμῖν] ταῦτα is referred by Bengel to what follows, by Grotius to what follows and what precedes, by most commentators (Lücke, Baumgarten-Crusius, de Wette, Sander, Düsterdieck, Braune), correctly, to the latter only; it refers, however, not merely to the truth expressed in 1 John 2:6, normerely to the “exhortation to self-knowledge and penitence” (de Wette) which is contained in the preceding, nor merely to the statement about forgiveness and cleansing; but to the “whole in its vivid harmony” (Düsterdieck, so also Braune).[76]

ἵνα μὴ ἁμάρτητε] Statement of the object for which the apostle wrote what precedes; the direction which Calvin gives it: ne quis putet eum peccandi licentiam dare, quum de misericordia Dei concionatur, which is also found in Augustin, Bede, Calov, Bengel, Hornejus, Düsterdieck, Ewald, etc., is incorrect, since the sternness of the apostle against sin has already been sharply and definitely expressed, and the context, in which the subject previously was the forgiveness of sin, would not permit such a supposition to arise at all.[77]

ΚΑῚ ἘΆΝ ΤΙς ἉΜΆΡΤῌ] ΚΑΊ is neither = “however” (Baumgarten-Crusius), nor = sed (Vulg.); it connects as simple copula a new thought with the preceding one. By ἐάΝ the possibility of sinning is admitted; Calvin incorrectly explains it: Conditionalis particula “si quis” debet in causalem resolvi; nam fieri non potest quin peccemus. Whether it is possible for the Christian not to sin, John does not say. Under the influence of the new spirit of life which is communicated to the believer he cannot sin; but, at the same time, in his internal and external mechanism there lies for him the possibility of sinning—and it is this which the apostle has in view. Socinus perverts the idea of the apostle when he interprets: si quis peccat i. e. post Christum agnitum et professionem nominis ipsius adhuc in peccatis manet, necdum resipuit, etc.; for, on the one hand, the true Christian may indeed sin, but cannot remain in his sins; and, on the other hand, Christ is not the παράκλητος for him who remains in his sins. Besser correctly: “If any man sin—not with wilful doing of sin, but in spite of the will in his mind, which says no to sin.”

παράκλητον ἔχομεν πρὸς τὸν πατέρα] From the 1st pers. plur. it follows that the preceding ΤΙς is used quite generally; the apostle is speaking communicatively, and does not wish himself to be considered excluded.[78] It is unnecessary for the connection of this sentence to supply: “let him know that,” or: “let him comfort himself with the thought that,” or any similar expression; for it is precisely through the ἁμαρτάνειν of believers that Christ is induced to be their Paraclete. The verb ἜΧΕΙΝ indicates that Christ belongs to believers.[79]

The word ΠΑΡΆΚΛΗΤΟς has both a general and a special forensic meaning; in the former, in which it is = “assister,” or “helper,” it is used in Gospel of John 14:16; John 14:26; John 15:26; John 16:7, where the Holy Ghost is so called because by His witness He leads the disciples into all truth; see Meyer on John 14:16;[80] here, on the other hand, it is used in its forensic meaning = “advocatus, patronus causae,” or even more special = “intercessor,” and is in close connection with the following ἱλασμός, and refers back to the ἀφιέναι and καθαρίζειν of chap. 1 John 1:9; so that in Christ the typical action of the high priest interceding for the people has reached its complete fulfilment. The idea of the apostle therefore is—as almost all commentators recognise[81]—the same as is expressed in Romans 8:34 (ὃς καὶ ἐντυγχάνει ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν), in Hebrews 9:24 (ΕἸΣῆΛΘΕΝ Ὁ ΧΡΙΣΤῸςΕἸςΤῸΝ ΟὐΡΑΝΌΝ, ΝῦΝ ἘΜΦΑΝΙΣΘῆΝΑΙ Τῷ ΠΡΟΣΏΠῼ ΤΟῦ ΘΕΟῦ ὙΠῈΡ ἩΜῶΝ), and in Hebrews 7:25.[82]

ΠΡῸς ΤῸΝ ΠΑΤΈΡΑ] ΠΡΌς in the same sense as chap. 1 John 1:2.

God is called ΠΑΤΉΡ, because the ΠΑΡΆΚΛΗΤΟς is the Son of God, and we also (believing Christians) have become through Him ΤΈΚΝΑ ΤΟῦ ΘΕΟῦ, chap. 1 John 3:1-2.

ἸΗΣΟῦΝ ΧΡΙΣΤῸΝ ΔΊΚΑΙΟΝ] Christ is the Paraclete, not as the Logos, but as the incarnate Logos, who has shed His αἷμα (chap. 1 John 1:7) for the atonement,—and indeed inasmuch as He is ΔΊΚΑΙΟς; ΔΊΚΑΙΟς is here also neither = lenis et bonus (Grotius), nor = ΔΙΚΑΙῶΝ (see Wolf on this passage); but neither is it = fidelis atque verax, quatenus id praestat quod promisit, se scilicet suis adfuturum (Socinus); according to the usus loquendi, ΔΊΚΑΙΟς could be understood of (judicial) justice (Bede: justus advocatus, injustas causas non suscipit), but then the adjective would have had to be put with ΠΑΡΆΚΛΗΤΟΝ; Ebrard incorrectly explains it = ΔΊΚΑΙΟς ΚΑῚ ΔΙΚΑΙῶΝ; but this explanation is so much the more unwarrantable, as ΔΙΚΑΙΟῦΝ is the very business of the ΠΑΡΆΚΛΗΤΟς; by the epithet ΔΊΚΑΙΟς, Christ is held up before the ἉΜΑΡΤΆΝΟΥΣΙ as one who by His nature is fitted to be the Paraclete of sinners, i.e. as one who perfectly satisfies the will of God; who is “just and stainless, and without sin” (Luther). “Only as the Holy One, in whom the holy ideal of manhood is seen realized, can He intercede for sinners with the heavenly Father” (Neander).

[76] Ebrard refers ταῦτα to the two sentences, 1 John 1:6-10, in which these thoughts, involving an apparent contradiction, are contained—(1) “That we must by no means walk in darkness,” and (2) “that we must confess that we have and that we commit sin,” and thinks that this apparent contradiction is solved by 1 John 2:1, in this way, that in contrast to those theoretical statements these two practical conclusions from them are here given, namely, (1) “that we are not to sin;” (2) “that when we have sinned we are to reflect that in Christ we have an Advocate.” But against this it is to be observed—(1) that by such a changing of theoretical statements into practical precepts the problem mentioned above is really not solved; (2) that the ideas expressed in 1 John 1:6-7, and in 1 John 1:8-10, do not stand to one another in the relation of co-ordination, but the idea of 1 John 1:8-10 is subordinated to that of 1 John 1:6-7; (3) that it is herewith presupposed that the apostle should have written: καὶ ἵνα εἰδῆτε, ὅτι, ἐάν τις ἁμάρτῃ, παρά κλητον ἔχομεν, which, however, is incorrect, as the advocate-office of Christ is not mentioned in the preceding.

[77] Socinus incorrectly renders ἁμαρτάνειν = manere in peccatis; Löffler even more so = “to remain unbaptized.”

[78] Augustin: habemus dixit, non habetis; maluit se ponere in numero peccatorum, ut habeat advocatum Christum, quam ponere se pro Christo advocato et inveniri inter damnandos superbos.—Socinus thinks that the apostle speaks in the first person, non quod revera ipse esset unus ex illis, qui adhuc peccarent, sed ut melius indicet, id quod affirmat pertinere ad omnes, quibus evangelium annunciatum est; clearly erroneous. Grotius arbitrarily: habet ille advocatum, sed ecclesia habet, quae pro lapso precatur. Preces autem ecclesiae Christus more advocati Deo patri commendat.

[79] Besser: “He has made Himself ours, has given our faith an eternally valid claim on Him.”

[80] In the fact that in the Gospel of John the Holy Ghost, but here Christ, is called παράκλητος, there is so much the less a contradiction, as in John 14:16 it is expressly put: ἄλλον παράκλητον, by which Christ signifies that He Himself is the proper παράκλητος, and the Holy Ghost His substitute.

[81] Ebrard, who here gives the same explanation, explains the expression in the Gospel of John = “Comforter,” ὅς παρακαλεῖ (more correctly παρακαλεῖται, mid.), according to the Hebrew מְנַחֵם, LXX. Job 16:2; but in this passage it is not παράκλητος, but παρακλήτως, that is used; Hofmann’s explanation is also incorrect (Schriftbew. II. 2, p. 15 ff.) = “Teacher” (comp. Meyer and Hengstenberg on John 14:16).

[82] This idea is not, as it might appear, in contradiction with John 16:26; for even in this statement a lasting intercession by Christ is indicated, since Christ ascribes the hearing of prayer in His name to Himself (John 14:13) as well as to the Father.


How Christ executes His office of Advocate with the Father, John does not say; a dogmatic exposition of it is not in place here, still it is important to mark the chief elements which are the result of the apostle’s statement. These are the following:—1. The Paraclete is Jesus, the glorified Redeemer who is with the Father; therefore neither His divine nature alone, nor His human nature alone, but the Lord in His divine-human personality. 2. The presupposition is the reconciliation of men with God by His blood. 3. His advocacy has reference to believers, who still sin amid their walking in light; and 4. It is a real activity in which He intercedes for His people (that God may manifest in their forgiveness and sanctification His faithfulness and justice) with God, as His (and their) Father. If these points are observed, on the one hand, there is found in the apostolic statement no ground for a materialistic conception, which Calvin opposes in the following words: obiter notandum est, nimis crasse errare eos, qui patris genibus Christum advolvunt, ut pro nobis oret. Tollendae sunt eiusmodi cogitationes, quae coelesti Christi gloriae derogant;—but neither, on the other hand, is there any justification for doing away with the idea, as not a few commentators have been guilty of. Even Bede has not kept himself free from it, when he says that the advocacy consists in this, that Christ presents Himself as man to God, and prays for us non voce, sed miseratione, and therefore considers the intercessio, not as an actio realis, but only as an actio interpretativa. But the idea is even more done away with, when the intercession is viewed only as the permanent effect of the redemptive work accomplished by Christ in the giving up of His life to the death, which is no doubt the opinion of Baumgarten-Crusius when he says: “The apostles certainly did not think of a special oral intercession, but of an intercession by deed, in His work.”[83] Lücke rightly says: “The meaning of this form of representation is no other than this, that Jesus Christ also in His δόξα with the Father continues His work of reconciliation. If Christ were not the eternal Paraclete for us with God, His saving and reconciling work would be limited to His earthly life merely, and in so far could not be regarded as eternal and complete;” but it is not to the point when he further puts it: “Without the eternally active saving and reconciling spirit of Christ, without the πνεῦμα Χριστοῦ, Christ would not be a perfect, a living Christ;” for John is not here speaking of the πνεῦμα of Christ, but of the personal Christ Himself. The explanation of de Wette, that the advocacy of Christ is the combination of the idea of the glorified and of the suffering Messiah, is also unsatisfactory, because it changes the objective reality into a subjective representation. Neander rightly says: “When Christ is described as the Advocate, this is not to be understood as if only the effects of the work once accomplished by Him were transferred to Himself.

John considers the living Christ as personally operating in His work, as operating in His glorified position with His Father, with the same holy love with which He accomplished His work on earth as a mediation for sinful man. It is by Him in His divine-human personality that the connection between man, saved and reconciled to God by Him, and God as the Father, is always brought about.” Comp. also Meyer on Romans 8:34, and Braune in the fundamental dogmatic ideas of the passage.

[83] Similarly Köstlin (p. 61): “Christ is the eternal παράκλητος; He does not however, pray the Father, but the sense of His office of Advocate is simply this, that for His sake the Father also loves those who believe on Him.” Frommann also (p. 472 ff.) finds in the statement of the apostle only a symbolical form of expression, by which the continuation of the atoning work of Christ in His state of exaltation is indicated.

1 John 2:1-2. The Remedy for the Sins of Believers. “My little children, these things I am writing to you in order that ye may not sin. And if any one sin an Advocate have we with the Father—Jesus Christ, a righteous One. And He is Himself the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.”

1. My little children] The diminutive form (τεκνία) does not at all imply that he is addressing persons of tender age: it is a term of endearment. Wiclif has ‘litil sones’ as a rendering of the filioli of the Vulgate; Tyndale, Cranmer, and the Genevan Version all waver between ‘babes’ (which is far too strong) and ‘little children’. Setting aside Galatians 4:19, where the reading is uncertain, the word occurs only in this Epistle (1 John 2:12; 1 John 2:28, 1 John 3:7; 1 John 3:18, 1 John 4:4, 1 John 5:21) and once in the Gospel (John 13:33). Possibly it is a reminiscence of Christ’s farewell address in John 13. S. John’s conception of the Church is that of a family, in which all are children of God and brethren one of another, but in which also some who are elders stand in a parental relation to the younger brethren. Thus there were families within the family, each with its own father. And who had a better right to consider himself a father than the last surviving Apostle? “The Apostles loved and cherished that name, and all that it implied, and all that illustrated it. They much preferred it to any title which merely indicated an office. It was more spiritual; it was more personal; it asserted better the divine order; it did more to preserve the dignity and sacredness of all domestic relations” (Maurice). Comp. the story of ‘S. John and the Robber’ (p. 24).

These things] Probably refers to the preceding paragraph (1 John 1:5-10) rather than to what follows. On the one hand they must beware of the spiritual pride which is one of the worst forms of sin: on the other they must not think that he is bidding them acquiesce in a state of sin.

I write] Henceforward the Apostle uses the more personal and direct first person singular. Only in the Introduction (1 John 1:4) does he use the apostolic ‘write we’: contrast 1 John 2:1; 1 John 2:7-8; 1 John 2:12-14; 1 John 2:21; 1 John 2:26, 1 John 5:13.

that ye sin not] The Apostle is not giving a command, but stating his reason for writing thus; in order that ye may not sin. Tyndale’s first edition has ‘that ye should not sin’. That is his aim; to lead them onward to perfect holiness, to perfect likeness to God. Those who are on the one hand warned of their liability to sin, and on the other are told of what cleanses them from sin, are put in the way towards this high ideal.

And if any man sin] Or, have sinned (peccaverit): S. John is not telling the intending sinner that sin is a light matter; but the penitent sinner that sin is not irremediable. In both sentences ‘sin’ is in the aorist, and implies a definite act, not an habitual state, of sin. We are to avoid not merely a life of sin, but any sin whatever. And not merely the habitual sinner, but he who falls into a single sin, needs and has an Advocate. Sin and its remedy are stated in immediate proximity, just as they are found in life.

we have an Advocate] Just as we always have sin (1 John 1:8), so we always have One ready to plead for pardon. S. John does not say ‘he hath an Advocate’, but ‘we have’ one: he breaks the logical flow of the sentence rather than seem not to include himself in the need and possession of an Advocate. On Advocate or Paraclete (παράκλητος) see on John 14:16. It means one who is summoned to the side of another, especially to serve as his helper, spokesman (causae patronus), or intercessor. The word occurs in N.T. only in S. John; here in the Epistle and four times in the Gospel (John 14:16; John 14:26, John 15:26, John 16:7). It is unlikely that S. John would use the word in totally different senses in the two writings, especially if the Epistle was written to accompany the Gospel. We must therefore find some meaning which will suit all five passages. Two renderings compete for acceptation, ‘Comforter’ and ‘Advocate’. Both make good sense in the Gospel, and (though there is by no means agreement on the point) ‘Advocate’ makes the best sense. ‘Advocate’ is the only rendering which is at all probable here: it exactly suits, the context. ‘We have a Comforter with the Father’ would be intolerable. The older English Versions (excepting Taverner, who has ‘spokesman’) all have ‘Advocate’ here; and (excepting the Rhemish, which has ‘Paraclete’) all have ‘Comforter’ in the Gospel: and of course this unanimity influenced the translators of 1611. But ‘Advocates’ as the one rendering which suits all five passages should be adopted throughout. Then we see the full meaning of Christ’s promise (John 14:16), ‘I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Advocate’. Jesus Christ is one Advocate; the Holy Spirit is another. As S. Paul says, ‘the Spirit Himself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered’: and it is worthy of remark that he uses precisely the same language to express the intercession of the Spirit and the intercession of Christ (Romans 8:26-27; Romans 8:34). Comp. Hebrews 7:25; Hebrews 9:24; 1 Timothy 2:5. Philo’s use of the word ‘Paraclete’ throws considerable light upon its meaning. He often uses it of the high-priest with his breastplate of judgment (Exodus 28:29) interceding on earth for Israel, and also of the Divine Word or Logos giving efficacy in heaven to the intercession of the priest upon earth: ‘It was necessary that the priest who is consecrated to the Father of the world should employ an Advocate most perfect in efficacy, even the Son, for the blotting-out of sins and the obtaining of abundant blessings’ (De Vita Mosis, III. xiv. 155). It is evident that the whole passage—‘the blood of Jesus cleanseth us’, ‘to cleanse us from all unrighteousness’, ‘Advocate’, ‘propitiation’—points back to the Mosaic purifications by the blood of victims, and especially to the intercession of the high-priest with the blood of the bullock and the goat on the Day of Atonement. That great type, S. John affirms, has been fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Comp. Hebrews 9:24.

with the Father] Literally, towards the Father. The idea is either that of turning towards in order to plead with Him; or, as in 1 John 1:2 and John 1:1, at home with Him, ever before His face. ‘The Father’ rather than ‘God’, to bring out the point that our Advocate is His Son, and that through Him we also are made sons. It is not a stern judge but a loving Father before whom He has to plead.

Jesus Christ the righteous] Or, a righteous one: there is no article in the Greek. But in English ‘the righteous’ comes nearer to the Greek than the apparently more exact ‘a righteous one’. It is as being righteous Himself that He can so well plead with the ‘righteous Father’ (John 17:25; 1 John 1:9) for those who are not righteous. And, as Bede remarks, “a righteous advocate does not undertake unrighteous causes.” It is the Sinless Man, the perfected and glorified Jesus, who pleads for sinners before the Throne of God. Note that neither in the body of the Epistle, any more than in the body of the Gospel, does S. John speak of Christ as ‘the Word’. In both cases that title is used in the Introduction only. When he speaks of the historic person Jesus Christ, S. John uses the name by which He is known in history. Of the perfect righteousness of this Man S. John has personal knowledge, and he alludes to it repeatedly in this Epistle.

Ch. 1 John 2:1-6. Obedience to God by Imitation of Christ

1–6. The Apostle is still treating of the condition and conduct of the believer as determined by his walking in the light; there is no break between the two chapters. Having shewn us that even Christians constantly sin, he goes on (1) to point out the remedy for sin, (2) to exhort us not to sin. The paragraph begins and ends with the latter point, but the former constitutes the chief link with the preceding paragraph: comp. 1 John 1:7. He who craves to grow in sanctification, and yet is conscious of his own frailty must constantly have recourse to the Advocate and His cleansing blood: thus he will be enabled to obey God more and more perfectly.

1 John 2:1. Τεκνία μου, my little children) The diminutive, used as a mark of love. Now for the first time he names those to whom he writes.—ταῦτα, these things) which follow.—ἵνα μὴ ἁμάρτητε, that ye sin not) μὴ, lest, to be pronounced with emphasis. He fortifies their minds beforehand, lest they should abuse his discourse concerning reconciliation to a license for sinning. There is in this place προθεραπεία, a precautionary warning; and a similar ἐπιθεραπεία,1 an after-qualification of his previous words, ch. 1 John 5:18, note. All the Divine purposes, words, and judgments, have for their aim to oppose sin, either to prevent its commission, or to destroy it.—ἐάν τις ἁμάρτῃ, if any man sin) and lose the confidence of asking for himself; respecting which, see John 16:26.—παράκλητον, an advocate) who pleads our cause, so that the Father may not turn away His love from us.—δίκαιον, the righteous) 1 John 2:29. Jesus Christ, in the presence of the Father, at His right hand, chiefly from [owing to His] access to Him, having offered a sacrifice for sins, is called The Righteous, John 16:10. His righteousness takes away our sin: and it is not itself lessened from this circumstance, that He is the Advocate for sinners: Isaiah 53:11-12.

Verses 1, 2. - Moreover, walking in the light involves accepting the propitiation wrought through Jesus Christ the Righteous. The connexion with the preceding is close. We have just had

(1) the confession that we do sin; we now have

(2) the principle that we must not sin; and

(3) the consolation that sin is not irremediable. Verse 1. - My little children; or, perhaps, my dear children; or, simply, my children. The diminutive τεκνία, if it retains any force, expresses endearment rather than smallness or youth. The word occurs only once outside this Epistle (John 13:33), and it was, perhaps, from Christ's use of it then that St. John adopted it (verses 12, 28; 1 John 3:7, 18; 1 John 4:4; 1 John 5:21). In Galatians 4:19 the reading is doubtful Cf. Τί με φεύγεις, τέκνον τὸν σαυτοῦ πατέρα; in the beautiful story of St. John and the young robber (Eusebius, 'Hist. Eccl.,' III. 23:17). As distinct from παιδία (1 John 2:13, 18), the word seems to imply spiritual fatherhood. These things (the section, 1 John 1:5-10) I write to you, that ye may not sin. The aorist forbids the rendering, "continue in sin;" as before, those who are walking in light and yet sin through frailty are addressed. Two apparently contradictory principles have been set forth: you must walk in light; you must confess that you sin. St. John now goes on to reconcile them. I write

(1) to charge you not to sin;

(2) [to tell you that] if we sin, we have an Advocate.

Instead of understanding "to tell you that," we may take καί as "and yet" - a frequent use in St. John. There are two seemingly opposite truths - sin is wholly alien from the Christian, and the Christian is never wholly free from sin; and St. John struggles to give them their right balance, not in the dialectical manner of St. Paul, but by stating them alternately, side by side, varying the point of view. We have an Advocate. The possession of the Advocate is as continual ἔχομεν as of the sin (1 John 1:8). Every one feels that "a Comforter with the Father" is an impossible rendering. But St. John alone uses the word Παράκλητος, four times in his Gospel of the Spirit (see on John 14:16), and once here of Christ. Is it likely that he would use so unusual and important a word in two different senses, and that in two writings intended as companions to one another? The rendering "Advocate," necessary here, carries with it the rendering "Advocate" in the Gospel. Moreover, what is the meaning of ἄλλος Παράκλητος, if Christ is an Advocate, but the Spirit a Comforter? If Christ is one Advocate and the Spirit "another Advocate," all is intelligible. Philo frequently uses παράκλητος of the high priest as intercessor for the people, and also of the Divine Λόγος. There is a difference, however, between "Paraclete" as used of the Spirit and as used of Christ. It is applied to the Spirit in his relation to the disciples; to Christ in his relation to the Father. Christ is our Advocate πρὸς τὸν Πατέρα: his advocacy turns towards the Father to propitiate him. And not in vain; for he is himself "righteous." A sinner could not reconcile God to sinners; but a righteous Advocate can, for his character is a warrant for the righteousness of his cause. Thus, δίκαιον is the set-off to ἐάν τις ἁμάρτῃ. One who has sinned needs an advocate; one who has not sinned can best undertake the office. Δίκαιον at the end, without the article, is gently suggestive of the plea, "Jesus Christ, a Righteous One." 1 John 2:1My little children (τεκνία μου)

Τεκνίον, little child, diminutive of τέκνον child, occurs in John 8:33; 1 John 2:12, 1 John 2:28; 1 John 3:7, 1 John 3:18; 1 John 4:4; 1 John 5:21. This particular phrase is found only here (best texts omit my in 1 John 3:18). Used as a term of affection, or possibly with reference to the writer's advanced age. Compare Christ's word, παιδία children (John 21:5) which John also uses (1 John 2:13, 1 John 2:18). In the familiar story of John and the young convert who became a robber, it is related that the aged apostle repaired to the robber's haunt, and that the young man, on seeing him, took to flight. John, forgetful of his age, ran after him, crying: "O my son why dost thou fly from me thy father? Thou, an armed man, - I, an old, defenseless one! Have pity upon me! My son, do not fear! There is still hope of life for thee. I wish myself to take the burden of all before Christ. If it is necessary, I will die for thee, as Christ died for us. Stop! Believe! It is Christ who sends me."


More personal than we write (1 John 1:4), and thus better suiting the form of address, my little children.

If any man sin, we have

The change from the indefinite third person, any man, to the first person, we have, is significant. By the we have, John assumes the possibility of sinful acts on the part of Christians, and of himself in common with them, and their common need of the intervention of the divine Advocate. So Augustine: "He said, not 'ye have,' nor 'ye have me,' nor 'ye have Christ himself;' but he put Christ, not himself, and said 'we have,' and not 'ye have.' He preferred to place himself in the number of sinners, so that he might have Christ for his advocate, rather than to put himself as the advocate instead of Christ, and to be found among the proud who are destined to condemnation."

An advocate (παράκλητον)

See on John 14:16.

With the Father (πρὸς τὸν πατέρα)

See on with God, John 1:1. An active relation is indicated. On the terms the Father and my Father, see on John 4:21.

The righteous

Compare righteous, 1 John 1:9. There is no article in the Greek. Jesus Christ righteous. See on 1 John 1:9.

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