1 John 2:8
Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth.
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2:3-11 What knowledge of Christ can that be, which sees not that he is most worthy of our entire obedience? And a disobedient life shows there is neither religion nor honesty in the professor. The love of God is perfected in him that keeps his commandments. God's grace in him attains its true mark, and produces its sovereign effect as far as may be in this world, and this is man's regeneration; though never absolutely perfect here. Yet this observing Christ's commands, has holiness and excellency which, if universal, would make the earth resemble heaven itself. The command to love one another had been in force from the beginning of the world; but it might be called a new command as given to Christians. It was new in them, as their situation was new in respect of its motives, rules, and obligations. And those who walk in hatred and enmity to believers, remain in a dark state. Christian love teaches us to value our brother's soul, and to dread every thing hurtful to his purity and peace. Where spiritual darkness dwells, in mind, the judgment, and the conscience will be darkened, and will mistake the way to heavenly life. These things demand serious self-examination; and earnest prayer, that God would show us what we are, and whither we are going.Again, a new commandment I write unto you - "And yet, that which I write to you, and particularly enjoin on you, deserves in another sense to be called a new commandment, though it has been also inculcated from the beginning, for it was called new by the Saviour himself." Or the meaning may be, "In addition to the general precepts which I have referred to, I do now call your attention to the new commandment of the Saviour, that which he himself called new." There can be no doubt here that John refers to the commandment to "love one another," (see 1 John 2:9-11), and that it is here called new, not in the sense that John inculcated it as a novel doctrine, but in the sense that the Saviour called it such. For the reasons why it was so called by him, see the notes at John 13:34.

Which thing is true in him - In the Lord Jesus. That is, which commandment or law of love was illustrated in him, or was manifested by him in his contact with his disciples. That which was most prominent in him was this very love which he enjoined on all his followers.

And in you - Among you. That is, you have manifested it in your contact with each other. It is not new in the sense that you have never heard of it, and have never evinced it, but in the sense only that he called it new.

Because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth - The ancient systems of error, under which people hated each other, have passed away, and you are brought into the light of the true religion. Once you were in darkness, like others; now the light of the pure gospel shines around you, and that requires, as its distinguishing characteristic, love. Religion is often represented as light; and Christ spoke of himself, and was spoken of, as the Light of the world. See the notes at John 1:4-5. Compare John 8:12; John 12:35-36, John 12:46; Isaiah 9:2.

8. a new commandment—It was "old," in that Christians as such had heard it from the first; but "new" (Greek, "kaine," not "nea": new and different from the old legal precept) in that it was first clearly promulgated with Christianity; though the inner spirit of the law was love even to enemies, yet it was enveloped in some bitter precepts which caused it to be temporarily almost unrecognized, till the Gospel came. Christianity first put love to brethren on the new and highest MOTIVE, instinctive love to Him who first loved us, constraining us to love all, even enemies, thereby walking in the steps of Him who loved us when enemies. So Jesus calls it "new," Joh 13:34, 35, "Love one another as I have loved you" (the new motive); Joh 15:12.

which thing is true in him and in you—"In Christ all things are always true, and were so from the beginning; but in Christ and in us conjointly the commandment [the love of brethren] is then true when we acknowledge the truth which is in Him, and have the same flourishing in us" [Bengel]. Alford explains, "Which thing (the fact that the commandment is a new one) is true in Him and in you because the darkness is passing away, and the true light is now shining; that is, the commandment is a new one, and this is true both in the case of Christ and in the case of you; because in you the darkness is passing away, and in Him the true light is shining; therefore, on both accounts, the command is a new one: new as regards you, because you are newly come from darkness into light; new as regards Him, because He uttered it when He came into the world to lighten every man, and began that shining which even now continues." I prefer, as Bengel, to explain, The new commandment finds its truth in its practical realization in the walk of Christians in union with Christ. Compare the use of "verily," 1Jo 2:5. Joh 4:42, "indeed"; Joh 6:55. The repetition of "in" before "you," "in Him and in you," not "in Him and you" implies that the love commandment finds its realization separately: first it did so "in Him," and then it does so "in us," in so far as we now "also walk even as He walked"; and yet it finds its realization also conjointly, by the two being united in one sentence, even as it is by virtue of the love commandment having been first fulfilled in Him, that it is also now fulfilled in us, through His Spirit in us: compare a similar case, Joh 20:17, "My Father and your Father"; by virtue of His being "My Father," He is also your Father.

darkness is past—rather, as in 1Jo 2:17, "is passing away." It shall not be wholly "past" until "the Sun of righteousness" shall arise visibly; "the light is now shining" already, though but partially until the day bursts forth.

Yet also he calls it a new commandment, as our Saviour did, John 13:34, upon the subjoined accounts.

Which thing is true; i.e. evident, or verified, fulfilled, exemplified.

In him; viz. in that new and high demonstration he had given of the sincerity and greatness of his own love, laying down his life for us, as John 15:13.

And in you; or, us, (as some read), i.e. the mind of God herein is by a new and fresh light most evidently and gloriously signified in or among you, (the subject being here collective and plural, admits this varied and very usual sense of the particle in), inasmuch as

the darkness is past; i.e. the heathenish ignorance that made the world barbarous; a darkness in which the furious lusts and passions of men are wont to rage, turning this earth into another hell, Psalm 74:20, is in a great measure vanished; and also the dark umbrage of the Judaic dispensation, (some read skia for skotia, not darkness, but shadow), in which the love of God to men was more obscurely represented, is past away and gone,

and the true light now shineth; the love and grace of God towards sinners (the pattern and argument of our mutual love to one another) shines with

true light, that is evident, in opposition to darkness, or immediately substantial, in opposition to type or shadow, as John 1:9,14,17: representing the gracious design of God, and his very nature, who is love, 1Jo 4:8,16, with so bright and glorious beams as ought to transform us into his likeness; and which therefore render the mutual hatred of one another the most incongruous thing to us in the world. Whereupon he adds... {see 1Jo 2:9}

Again, a new commandment I write unto you,.... Which is the same with the former, considered in different respects. The command of brotherly love is a new one; that is, it is an excellent one, as a new name is an excellent name, and a new song is an excellent one; it is renewed by Christ under the Gospel dispensation; it is newly explained by him, and purged from the false glosses of the Scribes and Pharisees; see Matthew 5:43; and enforced by him with a new argument, and by a new example of his own, even his own love to his people; and which is observed by them in a new manner, they being made new creatures; and this law being anew written in their hearts, under the renewing work of the Spirit of God, as a branch of the new covenant of grace; see John 13:34. The Jews (c) expect , "a new law" to be given them by the bands of the Messiah; and a new one he has given, even the new commandment of love, and which is the fulfilling of the law.

Which things is true in him, and in you. The Alexandrian copy reads, "in us"; the sense is either, it is true "in itself", as the phrase will bear to be rendered, and it is verified in you, or in us, to be a new commandment; or it is true in Christ, it is yea and amen in him; it has its full completion in him, who is the fulfilling end of the law, as well as it has been faithfully delivered, truly explained, and warmly and affectionately recommended and urged by him; and he is the great pattern and exemplar of it: and the love which this new commandment requires is really and truly in the saints, implanted in them in regeneration, is a fruit of the Spirit, and which faith works by, and will always continue in them; and should be in its actings like Christ's, true, sincere, cordial, affectionate, constant, and universal: and some think the word or "is", or "let it be", is wanting in the last clause, and may be read, "which thing is true in him, and is", or "let it be in you": that is, as love to the brethren is true and sincere in Christ, so it is, or should be in you; it should be without dissimulation, and so it was, as the reason following shows:

because the darkness is past, or is "passing"; meaning either the darkness of the ceremonial law, which lay in dark types and shadows, and in cloudy sacrifices, and mystical representations of things, and was a shadow of good things to come; and its shadows were now fleeing away apace, in fact as well as in right; and so the Alexandrian copy reads, "because the shadow is passing away"; the night of Jewish darkness was far spent, and the Gospel day was not only broke, but it was, or near noonday, which brought the light of faith, and the heat of love with it: or else the darkness of sin and ignorance, of a state of nature, and of the kingdom of Satan, in which the people of God are before conversion; which then passes away gradually, by little and little, for it is not removed at once, or wholly gone; for though the saints are at once removed out of a state of darkness, and from the kingdom of darkness, and the power of it, yet they are not wholly free from the darkness of sin and ignorance, they still see but through a glass darkly: and the words are better rendered, the darkness passes", or "is passing away", and not is past", or "has passed away"; for as yet it is not entirely gone;

and the true light now shineth; either the Gospel, which is a light, and a true and substantial one, in distinction from the dim light of nature, or the shadowy law of Moses; and which now, under the present dispensation, shines out in a most glorious manner, as the sun in its full strength; and so the Ethiopic version renders it, "the light of truth"; the word of truth, the Gospel of our salvation: or Jesus Christ, who is so called, John 1:9; in distinction from typical lights, as the "Urim" on the high priest's breastplate, the candlestick in the tabernacle and temple, and the pillar of fire by night, which guided the Israelites through the wilderness; and in opposition to all false lights, to the Scribes and Pharisees, to false Christs and false prophets, which are so many "ignes fatui"; but Christ is the sun of righteousness that is risen in our "horizon", and the true light which shines out in a most illustrious manner: or the light of grace is here intended, that light which the Spirit of God illuminates with in conversion; in which a man sees sin in its true colours, and has a spiritual and saving sight of Christ, of pardon, peace, life, righteousness, and salvation by him; which is no other than the light of faith, by which an enlightened person sees the Son, looks to him, and has an evidence of the unseen glories of another world. Now this is a true light, things are seen by the believer in a right light, both his own sins, and the person, blood, and righteousness of Christ; this is a shining one, which cannot but be observed by himself, and shines more and more to the perfect day; and it now shines as it did not before, in a state of nature, and continues to shine, and ever will: this light will never be put out, and is the cause of brotherly love, being truly in the saints, and of the continuance of it; before this light shines, men live in malice, but when it comes and shines, as they walk in light, they walk in love.

(c) Yalkut Simconi, par. 2. fol. 461.

{7} Again, a new commandment I write unto you, {h} which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth.

(7) He adds that the doctrine indeed is old, but it is in a way new, both in respect to Christ, and also to us: in whom he through the gospel, engraves his law effectually, not in tables of stone, but in our minds. {h} Which thing (that is, that the doctrine is new which I write to you) is true in him, and in you.

1 John 2:8. πάλιν ἐντολὴν καινὴν κ.τ.λ.] Almost all commentators hold that the ἐντολὴ καινή is the same ἐντολή as was the subject of 1 John 2:7; differently Ebrard, who explains as follows: “With 1 John 2:7 begins a new section which continues to 1 John 2:29, in which the leading thought is the position of the readers to the light as one which was already shining; by ἐντ. παλαιά is meant the clause, chap. 1 John 1:5 : ὁ Θεὸς φῶς ἐστι; by ἐντ. καινή, on the other hand, the following clause: ἡ σκοτία παράγεται καὶ τὸ φῶς τὸ ἀληθινὸν ἤδη φαίνει;[107] the relative clause Ὅ ἙΣΤΙΝ ἈΛΗΘῈς Κ.Τ.Λ. belongs, by apposition, to the following sentence: ὍΤΙ Ἡ ΣΚΟΤΊΑ Κ.Τ.Λ., and states to what extent the essential true light has already begun to shine, namely, the fact that the light already shines has a double sphere in which it is ἈΛΗΘΈς, i.e. actually realized, first in Christ, but then also ἐν ὑμῖν, i.e. in the Ephesian readers themselves, and equally in all true Christians.” This explanation is, however, incorrect; for—(1) the truth ἡ σκοτία παράγεται κ.τ.λ. can just as little be called an ἘΝΤΟΛΉ as the sentence Ὁ ΘΕῸς Φῶς ἘΣΤΙ (see on 1 John 2:7); (2) the relative clause, if it was to be a preceding apposition to Ἡ ΣΚΟΤΊΑ Κ.Τ.Λ., would have had to come after ὍΤΙ; according to the structure of the verse, must necessarily be connected with what precedes; (3) it is a false idea, that that which the clause ὍΤΙ Ἡ ΣΚΟΤΊΑ expresses was actually realized in Christ; the incorrectness of this idea is concealed in Ebrard’s interpretation in this way, no doubt, that he gives to ἘΝ ΑὐΤῷ a different relation from that which he gives ἘΝ ὙΜῖΝ, and changes the present ΠΑΡΆΓΕΤΑΙ into the perfect.[108] Nor is the opinion that we are to understand by ἘΝΤ. ΠΑΛ. the commandment of walking in light, and by ἘΝΤ. ΚΑΙΝΉ, on the other hand, that of brotherly love (1 John 2:9), tenable, because these commandments, according to their import, are not two distinct commandments, but one and the same commandment. Still more unjustifiable is the assumption of S. Schmid, that in 1 John 2:7 the fundamental law of Christianity, namely, justification by faith, but here the commandment of Christian sanctification, is meant; and that of Weiss, that by ἘΝΤΟΛΉ, 1 John 2:7, is to be understood the evangelical message of salvation, but here the commandment of love. The apostle, having in view here the same commandment as in 1 John 2:7, says: “Again a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in Him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth.” The relative clause ὅ ἐστιν κ.τ.λ. serves not merely to establish the statement that the commandment is a new one (Socinus, Flacius, Morus, Hornejus, de Wette-Brückner, Lücke, ed. 2 and 3, ed. 1 of this commentary, Erdmann, etc.);[109] but the apostle thereby describes the commandment, yet not in a material way, so that would be referred to the substance of it (Oecumenius, Luther, Baumgarten-Crusius, Semler, Frommann, Düsterdieck, etc.),[110] but only in a formal way, as that which is actually fulfilled in Christ and in his readers; as the commandment in 1 John 2:7 was also only defined in a formal way by ἣν εἴχετε ἀπʼ ἀρχῆς.

ὅ ἐστινἐν ὑμῖν is the object belonging to ΓΡΆΦΩ, and ἘΝΤΟΛῊΝ ΚΑΙΝΉΝ is to be taken as the accusative of more particular definition; this construction of it is found in Ewald, only he explains ἘΝ ΑὐΤῷ incorrectly by: “in the last-mentioned (in 1 John 2:7) word of God;” most recently it has been accepted by Braune with the interpretation here given. The sense accordingly is: that which is already true, i.e. fulfilled, in Christ and in you, namely, the τηρεῖν τὰς ἐντολὰς τοῦ Θεοῦ (comp. John 15:10, where Christ says of Himself: ἘΓῺ ΤᾺς ἘΝΤΟΛᾺς ΤΟῦ ΠΑΤΡΌς ΜΟΥ ΤΕΤΉΡΗΚΑ), I write unto you as a new commandment.[111] With this view it is self-evident that the apostle calls the old commandment a new one only in so far as he writes it anew to them. It is true a different reference has usually been given to καινή, by understanding it either of the constant endurance of the commandment of love (Calvin: novum dieit, quod Deus quotidie suggerendo veluti renovat; Joannes negat ejusmodi esse doctrinam de fratribus diligendis, quae tempore obsolescat: sed perpetuo vigere), or to indicate that this commandment first entered into the world along with Christianity—whether emphasis was put more upon the substance of it (Lücke, de Wette, ed. 1 of this comm.), or upon the mere time of it (Düsterdieck);[112] but these constructions, not being indicated in the context, are purely forced.

On πάλιν, Erasmus says: et contrarietatem declarat et iterationem; hic autem non repetitionis sed contrarietatis est declaratio; with this interpretation almost all commentators agree, referring πάλιν to the idea ἐντ. καινήν; but an antithetical construction is foreign to the word; it is = “again, once more,” is to be connected with γράφω, and is explained by the fact that the readers have already heard the commandment, nay, even are already fulfilling it. Lücke and de Wette connect it directly with the verb, but in such a way that even they give to it an antithetical reference.[113]

ἐστὶν ἀληθές] ἀληθής signifies here the actual reality, as in Acts 12:9 (see Meyer on this passage).

ἘΝ ΑὐΤῷ] ἘΝ is to be retained in its special meaning, not = “respectu, in reference to,” nor is it used “of the subject in which something true is to be recognized as true (1 John 2:3)” (de Wette), for there is no mention here of any knowledge. That by αὐτός here not God (Jachmann), but Christ is to be understood, is shown by the context. Socinus incorrectly explains ἘΝ ΑὐΤῷ = per se ac simpliciter. On the point that ἩΜῖΝ is not to be read, see the critical notes. Grotius unjustifiably understands by ἩΜῖΝ the apostles.

Neander has a wrong conception of the relation of ἘΝ ΑὐΤῷ and ἘΝ ὙΜῖΝ when he explains: “it takes place in reference to Christ and in reference to the church, therefore in reference to their mutual relationship to one another.”

ὅτι ἡ σκοτία κ.τ.λ.] ὅτι is not used declaratively, nor in such a way as to be dependent on ἀληθές (“it is true that the darkness,” etc.), or on ἘΝΤΟΛΉΝ (Castellio, Socinus, Bengel, Ebrard),—to both these views the structure of the verse is opposed,—but causally; this is rightly perceived by most of the commentators; but it is incorrect when they connect it with the immediately preceding ὅ ἐστιν ἀληθὲς κ.τ.λ., for the double-membered clause: ὍΤΙ Ἡ ΣΚΟΤΊΑΦΑΊΝΕΙ, being a confirmatory clause, does not stand in a corresponding relationship to the thought: Ὅ ἘΣΤΙΝ ἈΛ.… ὙΜῖΝ, which it is intended to confirm.[114] By ὅτι κ.τ.λ. the apostle rather states the reason why he writes to them as a new commandment that which is true in Christ and in them (Düsterdieck, Braune); this reason is the already commenced disappearance of darkness and shining of the true light. The contrasted words Ἡ ΣΚΟΤΊΑ and ΤῸ Φῶς ΤῸ ἈΛΗΘΙΝΌΝ are to be taken in ethical sense (Braune);[115] the former idea signifies the darkness which consists in error and sin, as it exists outside the fellowship with God; the latter, the light which consists in truth and holiness, as it proceeds from Christ, who Himself is the true light. It is incorrect to understand here by ΤῸ Φῶς ΤῸ ἈΛ., Christ Himself (Bengel, Erdmann), as the contrast with Ἡ ΣΚΟΤΊΑ shows. ἈΛΗΘΙΝΌς is an expression which is almost confined to the writings of John; outside them it is only found in Luke 16:11, 1 Thessalonians 1:9, and three times in the Epistle to the Hebrews; it describes the light of which the apostle is speaking as the eternal, essential light, of which the earthly light is merely the transitory reflection; see especially Neander on this passage.

ΠΑΡΆΓΕΤΑΙ is translated by the Vulgate as perfect: quoniam tenebrae transierunt; similarly by Luther: “the darkness is past;” and Calvin directly says: Praesens tempus loco Praeteriti. This, however, is arbitrary; the present is to be retained as such; it is used in the same sense as in 1 Corinthians 7:31 : ΠΑΡΆΓΕΙ (see Meyer on this passage), so that we must interpret: “the σκοτία is in the state of passing away.” It is unnecessary to take παράγεται, with Bengel, with whom Sander and Besser agree, as passive (Bengel: non dicit ΠΑΡΆΓΕΙ transit, sed ΠΑΡΆΓΕΤΑΙ traducitur, commutatur, ita ut tandem absorbeatur); it is more natural to regard it as the middle form with intransitive meaning. With the meaning: “is in the state of passing,” corresponds the particle ἬΔΗ with ΦΑΊΝΕΙ, which is not = “now” (Luther), but by which the moment is described in which the darkness is retreating before the light, at which therefore neither has the darkness already completely disappeared, nor is the light completely dominant. Most of the commentators, both the older and more recent (Baumgarten-Crusius, de Wette-Brückner, Lücke, Sander, Düsterdieck, Erdmann, Ebrard), take this as referring to Christianity in general, in so far as by it, as the true light, the old darkness is being ever more and more overcome; but by the word ἬΔΗ the apostle shows that in these words he is looking forward to a future time at which that victory will have been completely won, and which he regards as close at hand (so also Braune). The moment in which he writes this is in his eyes, therefore, no other than that which immediately precedes the second coming of Christ, and which He Himself in 1 John 2:18 calls the ἘΣΧΆΤΗ ὭΡΑ,[116] in which it is of the greater importance for Christians, by keeping the commandment, to show themselves as children of the light. The same train of thought essentially occurs here as afterwards in 1 John 2:15-18; compare also the Pauline ἡ νὺξ προέκοψεν, ἡ δὲ ἡμέρα ἤγγικε, Romans 13:12.

[107] The same view is found in Castellio, Socinus, and Bengel. The latter remarks on ἐντολὴν καινήν: praeceptum novum, quod nobis nunc primum in hac epistola scribitur; and on ὅτι: quod hoc est illud praeceptum, to which he then very strangely adds: amor fratris, ex luce.

[108] Ebrard says: “The eternally existing light is one which has already appeared ἐν αὐτῷ, in so far as in Christ the light objectivized has arisen for the world and has overcome the darkness, and ἐν ὑμῖν in so far as also subjectively to the readers the light of the gospel has arisen, and they also subjectively have been drawn from darkness unto light.” By ἐν ὑμῖν he means, therefore, the readers, in whom, i.e. in whose souls, the transition from darkness to light has taken place; by ἐν αὐτῷ, however, not Christ, in whom, but the world, for which that has happened objectively, inasmuch as Christ entered as the light into the darkness of the world. Quite a different meaning, therefore, is here assigned to ἐν αὐτῷ from that which is given to ἐν ὑμῖν, as the difference in the relation from the antithesis of “objective” and “subjective” clearly shows.—It is not merely the change of the present παράγεται into the perfect that is the cause of this treatment, for it appears elsewhere in the commentary,—thus on p. 148: “that which is true in Christ and in you, that the darkness is past,” etc.; p. 150: “similar to the new announcement, that the darkness is past,” etc.; p. 155: “It is the truth, that the darkness is past;” against which, on the other hand, παράγεται is correctly explained on p. 150: “the darkness is passing by, is in a state of passing away, of disappearing.”

[109] For if ὅ ἐστιν κ.τ.λ. is, according to the intention of the apostle, to be referred to the idea of the newness of the commandment, he would—first, have given this idea a more independent form than he has given it as a simple attribute of the object ἐντολήν depending on γράφω; and, secondly, not have given the confirmation of the statement (that the commandment is a new one) in a sentence which does not so much show the truth of this idea as merely state the sphere in which that statement is true; to which may be added, that the idea so resulting is itself so indistinct, that it requires, in order to be understood, an explanatory circumlocution, such as: “that the commandment is a new one has its truth in Christ, inasmuch as it did not exist before Him,” etc. (ed. 1 of this comm.). Besides, an emphasis unwarranted by the context is placed on the idea of the newness of the commandment, especially if it is thought that the following ὅτι again serves to establish the thought expressed in the confirmatory clause (Lücke, de Wette, Brückner).

[110] Düsterdieck, it is true, approves of Knapp’s paraphrase, which agrees with the above explanation: πάλιν (ὡς) ἐντολὴν καιν. γρ. ὑμῖν τοῦτο ὅ ἐστιν ἀληθές κ.τ.λ.; but, with the idea of a constructio ad sensum, refers to the preceding ἐντολήν, so that this forms the object of γράφω, which by the relative clause obtains its more particular definition. In opposition to this construction, de Wette has rightly observed that it has grammatical difficulty. When Düsterdieck, in reply to Lücke’s objection, that with that interpretation it would need to run ἥ ἐστιν ἀληθής, says that it is not the ἐντολή itself as such, but its substance in Christ, etc., that has been fulfilled, Ebrard’s observation is a sufficient answer: “That which is required in the ἐντολή is nothing else than just the ἐντολή itself; the requirement itself is fulfilled in Christ when its substance is fulfilled in Him.”

[111] That John places before his readers anew as a commandment that which already has been fulfilled in them, is clearly not more strange than that he declares to them truths of which he himself says that they know them already (comp. ver. 21). Brückner admits that the construction here advocated is simple and clear, but groundlessly thinks that “the strangeness of this form of speech” is not mitigated by the reference to ver. 21.

[112] On the basis of the right view of ἀπʼ ἀρχῆς, ver. 7, we find the nature of the newness of the commandment indicated just in this; this, however, is only the case if the temporal reference is retained in its purity. This Düsterdieck indeed insists on; but this relation has only force if we regard at the same time the substance of the commandment, as Düsterdieck does. But nothing in the context indicates this new substance, and it is therefore very differently defined by the commentators.

[113] Lücke does so when he says: “In ver. 8, John continues correctingly thus: Again a new commandment I write unto you.” (In the edition of 1851, Lücke agrees with the usual acceptation: “Again—in contrast—a new commandment I write unto you;” see ed. 3, p. 249, note 1.)—De Wette does not expressly give his opinion about πάλιν; but when he thinks that John should properly have written: “again a new commandment I call it,” and when he then paraphrases it: “The commandment of love is an old and long-known one to you; but (as it is altogether revealed as a new one by Christ) for you who partake in the newness of life it is in an especial manner a new one,” the antithetical reference is clearly brought out by him also.

[114] With this connection of the thoughts, the double-membered clause: ὅτι ἡ σκοτίαφαίνει, must confirm both ἐστιν ἀλ. ἐν αὐτῷ and also ἐστιν ἀλ. ἐν ὑμῖν. Now, when Lücke makes the apostle to say, as a proof that the commandment to walk in light shows itself in Christ and in his readers as a new one: “Not only in Christ Himself (ἐν αὐτῷ) has the true light appeared, but it has also shed itself abroad, dispelling the darkness in the minds of his readers (ἐν ὑμῖν), and is shining in them,” he attributes the thought really expressed by the apostle (ἡ σκοτίαφαίνει) only to ἐν ὑμῖν; while to ἐν αὐτῷ, on the other hand, he attributes an idea which the apostle has not expressed.—Brückner says: “The ἐν αὐτῷ refers to καὶ τὸ φῶς κ.τ.λ., the ἐν ὑμῖν rather to ἡ σκοτία κ.τ.λ.;” but this reference of the one member of the confirmatory clause to the one element of the thought to be confirmed must be regarded as unjustified, although Brückner thinks “it can easily be imagined that the apostle in the one part of the confirmation had in view rather the latter, and in the other rather the former part of the clause to be confirmed,” for such a different reference is in no way hinted at; besides, ἤδη is here altogether left out of view. Düsterdieck rightly establishes the proposition that the whole sentence: ἀληθ.… ὑμῖν, is to be regarded as confirmed by the whole sentence: ὅτι ἡ σκ.… φαίνει; but when he then, in interpretation, says: “Already the darkness is dispelled by the true light, which shines in truth in Christ and in His believers (in so far, namely, as brotherly love attained its most perfect manifestation in the walk of Christ, and is exercised by believers also),” it is only the second part of the confirmatory clause that is referred by him to ἐν αὐτῷ καὶ ἐν ὑμῖν, but not the first part; and this indeed is quite natural, since in Christ a disappearance of darkness is not imaginable.

[115] It was to be expected that Weiss here also denies to the ideas σκοτία and φῶς the ethical meaning, and wants to be understood by the former only error, by the latter only the knowledge of God. Weiss himself, however, views them both so that they are of ethical—and not merely theoretical—character; and, moreover, as he admits that with the former error sin, and with the latter knowledge holiness, is necessarily connected, it is so much the more arbitrary to allege that John, in the use of these ideas, utterly ignored this necessary connection.

[116] Rickli: “John says this of the time in which they are living, and in which the great work of the Lord had had a wonderful, rapid progress of development. The true Light, the Lord in His perfect manifestation of divine truth, is already shining; … already the great morning is dawning for mankind. When the Lord shall return, then shall be the perfect day of God. Towards this manifestation all believers walk.”

1 John 2:8. πάλιν, “again,” i.e. in another sense, from another point of view, not in itself but in our recognition of it, “it is a new commandment”. ὅ ἐστιν ἀληθές, in apposition to ἐντολήν—“a thing which is true,” viz., the paramount necessity of Love. This truth, though unperceived, is contained in the revelation of Jesus Christ (ἐν αὐτῷ) and proved in the experience of believers (ἐν ὑμῖν). It is a fact that hatred of one’s brother clouds the soul and shuts out the light. “I know this,” says the Apostle, “because the darkness is passing away and the light, the true light, is already shining,” i.e. my eyes are getting accustomed to the light of the Gospel-revelation, and I have seen this truth which at first was hidden from me. Adjectives in -ινός denote the material of which the thing is made; and ἀληθινός is used of the real as opposed either to the type (cf. John 6:32; John 15:1; Hebrews 8:2; Hebrews 9:24) or to the counterfeit (cf. Symb. Nic.: Θεὸν ἀληθινὸν ἐκ Θεοῦ ἀληθινοῦ “very God of very God,” i.e. the real God as opposed to false gods, idols, which were “things of naught”). The opposite of to τὸ φῶς τὸ ἀληθινόν is, on the one hand, the dim light of the Jewish Law (the type) and, on the other, the false light of human speculation (the counterfeit).

8. Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true] Or, Again, as a new commandment I write unto you a thing which is true. Or, Again, a new commandment write I unto you, namely that which is true. It is difficult to decide between these three renderings; but the third is simpler than the first. Both Tyndale and the Genevan Version have ‘a thing that is true’. If we adopt the rendering of A. V. and R. V., the meaning seems to be, that the newness of the commandment is true, both in the case of Christ, who promulgated it afresh, and in the case of you, who received it afresh. If we prefer the simpler rendering, the meaning will be, that what has already been shewn to be true by the pattern life of Christ and by the efforts of Christians to imitate it, is now given by S. John as a new commandment. The ‘Again’ introduces a new view: that which from one point of view was an old commandment, from another was a new one. It was old, but not obsolete, ancient but not antiquated: it had been renewed in a fuller sense; it had received a fresh sanction. Thus both those who feared innovations and those who disliked what was stale might feel satisfied.

in Him and in you] Note the double preposition, implying that it is true in the case of Christ in a different sense from that in which it is true in the case of Christians. He reissued the commandment and was the living embodiment and example of it; they accepted it and endeavoured to follow it: both illustrated its truth and soundness. See on 1 John 1:3, where ‘with’ is repeated, and on John 20:2, where ‘to’ is repeated. The reading ‘in us’ is certainly to be rejected.

because the darkness is past] Rather, is passing away (1 John 2:17): present tense of a process still going on (1 John 2:17). All earlier English Versions are wrong here, from Wiclif onwards, misled by transierunt tenebrae in the Vulgate. On ‘darkness’ see on 1 John 1:5. The ‘because’ introduces the reason why he writes as a new commandment what has been proved true by the example of Christ and their own experience. The ideal state of things, to which the perfect fulfilment of this commandment belongs, has already begun: ‘The darkness is on the wane, the true light is shewing its power; therefore I bid you to walk as children of light’. Comp. 1 Thessalonians 5:5.

the true light now shineth] Or, the light, the true (light), is already shining or, giving light: the article is repeated, as in the case of ‘the life, the eternal (life)’ in 1 John 1:2, and ‘the commandment, the old (commandment)’ in 1 John 2:7; and if we have ‘is passing’ rather than ‘passeth’, we should have ‘is shining’ rather than ‘shineth’. Here we have not precisely the same word for ‘true’ as in the previous sentence. In ‘a thing which is true’ (ἀληθές) ‘true’ is opposed to ‘lying’: here ‘true’ (ἀληθινὸν) is opposed to ‘spurious’, and is just the old English ‘very’. In ‘Very God of very God’ in the Nicene Creed, ‘very’ represents the word here rendered ‘true’. ‘True’ in this sense means ‘genuine’, or ‘that which realises the idea formed of it’, and hence ‘perfect.’ Christ and the Gospel are ‘the perfect light’ in opposition to the imperfect light of the Law and the Prophets and the false light of Gnostic philosophy. This form of the word ‘true’ is almost peculiar to S. John: it occurs 4 times in this Epistle, 9 times in the Gospel and 10 times in the Apocalypse: elsewhere in the N.T. only 5 times. Christ in the Gospel is called ‘the perfect Vine’ (John 15:1), ‘the perfect Bread’ (John 6:32) and ‘the perfect Light’ (1 John 1:9). It is comparatively unimportant whether we interpret ‘the perfect light’ here to mean Christ, or the light of the truth, or the kingdom of heaven: but John 1:5; John 1:9 will certainly incline us to the first of these interpretations. The contrast with the impersonal darkness does not disprove this here any more than in John 1:5. Darkness is never personal; it is not an effluence from Satan as light is from God or from Christ. It is the result, not of the presence of the evil one, but of the absence of God. Comp. ‘Ye were once darkness, but now light in the Lord: walk as children of light’ (Ephesians 5:8).

1 John 2:8. Ἐντολὴν καινὴν, a new precept) which is now first written to you in this Epistle. This passage savours of the fulness of the Spirit in the apostle.—ὃ ἐστιν ἀληθὲς, that which is truth) Truth, substantively, as in 1 John 2:27, where truth and a lie are opposed to each other. Thence also is put for , that is, the commandment (ἐντολή). The sense is: the commandment, or precept, is truth; that is, the darkness truly passes away, etc. As in 1 John 2:7, to the word old, so in this ver., to the word new, its definition is immediately subjoined, what is the old, and what is the new. The old is that which we had from the beginning: the new is that which is true in Jesus Christ and in us. The difference of time in the words, ye had, and it is, tends to this. In Christ all things are always true, and were so from that beginning; but in Christ and in us, conjointly, the precept is then truth, when we acknowledge the truth, which is in Him, and have the same flourishing in us. John praises the present state of those to whom he writes, as one even more highly favoured than that very state which they had had at the beginning of their hearing the Gospel, as Romans 13:11-12; whence also the old precept could with pleasantness be proposed to them under a new method.—ὅτ because. This is that precept, the love of a brother, from the light. Hence at the beginning of 1 John 2:9 therefore is to be understood. Comp. ch. 1 John 1:5-6.—παράγεται) He does not say παράγει, passes by, but παράγεται, is caused to pass, is changed, so that at length it is absorbed. The same word is used, 1 John 2:17, where it is opposed to abiding. Thus Ezra 9:2, Septuagint, παρήχθη σπέρμα τὸ ἅγιον, the holy seed was transferred, or caused to pass to the nations, and was mingled with them. Herodian: ὄνομα παραχθὲν, a name changed, transferred from another, or to another.—Book I., ch. 16, and V. 7. The present is to be observed, as in shineth.—τὸ φῶς τὸ ἀληθινὸν, the true light) Jesus Christ: John 1:9.—ἤδη) now, with you; but it will shine the more for ever: 1 John 2:28. Comp. until now, 1 John 2:9.—φαίνει, shineth) On this account it was now less needful for John to bring forward the prophets in his Epistles than it was for Peter; whose 2d Epistle, 2 Peter 1:19, comp. respecting the day and the morning star. Peter, with his Epistles, stands about midway between the suffering of Christ and the close of the life of John.

Verse 8. - Again. The πάλιν indicates another point of view - what in one sense was not fresh, in another sense was so. It is impossible to be certain as to the meaning of ὅ ἐστιν ἀληθὲς κ.τ.λ.. It may mean

(1) "which thing (the newness of the command) is true;" or

(2) "as a fresh commandment I am writing to you a thing which is true."

But for the practical example of the life of Christ, and men's acceptance of it, the command to love one's neighbour might have remained old and become obsolete. Ὅτι is almost certainly "because," not "that;" it introduces the reason why he writes, not the substance of, the fresh commandment. How can "the darkness is passing away," etc., be a commandment? The light, the true light τὸ φῶς τὸ ἀληθινόν; i.e., the real, the perfect, the very light, that which most fully realizes the ideal of light; in opposition to those "wandering stars, for whom the blackness of darkness hath been reserved for ever" (Jude 1:13; cf. John 1:4, 9; John 6:32; John 15:1). Christ is the perfect Light, as he is the perfect Bread and the perfect Vine. 1 John 2:8New commandment

The commandment of love is both old and new. Old, because John's readers have had it from the beginning of their Christian experience. New, because, in the unfolding of Christian experience, it has developed new power, meaning, and obligation, and closer correspondence "with the facts of Christ's life, with the crowning mystery of His passion, and with the facts of the Christian life."

Which thing is true (ὅ ἐστιν ἀληθὲς)

The expression which thing, or that which, refers either to the commandment of love, or to the fact stated, viz., that the old commandment is new. The fact that the old commandment is new is true in Him and in us. On the whole I prefer this.

In Him and in us

For us, read you. The fact that the old commandment is new, is true in Him (Christ), since He gave it as a new commandment, and illustrated it by His word and example. It is true in you, since you did not receive it until Christ gave it, and since the person and life of Christ are appealing to you in new lights and with fresh power as your Christian life develops. In Him, points back to as He walked.


Explaining the apparent paradox.

The darkness (ἡ σκοτία)

See on John 1:5. God is light; and whatever is not in fellowship with God is therefore darkness. In all cases where the word is not used of physical darkness, it means moral insensibility to the divine light; moral blindness or obtuseness. Compare John 8:12; John 12:35, John 12:46; 1 John 2:9, 1 John 2:11.

Is past (παράγεται)

Wrong. The passing is not represented as accomplished, but as in progress. Rev., rightly rendering the present tense, is passing away.

The true light (τὸ φῶς τὸ ἀληθινὸν)

Lit., the light, the true (light). See on that eternal life (1 John 1:2). True, not as distinguished from false, but as answering to the true ideal. See on John 1:9. The true light is the revelation of God in Christ. See on 1 John 1:5.


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