1 John 2:7-11
Brothers, I write no new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you had from the beginning…
I. THE COMMANDMENT OLD. "Beloved, no new commandment write I unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning: the old commandment is the Word which ye heard." The commandment indicated in the previous verse, viz. to walk as Christ walked, is in this paragraph identified with the commandment of brotherly love. His heart warming to his readers, he addresses them as "beloved." What he has in his mind to lay upon them by his letter was no new commandment. It was an old commandment, older than his connection with them. From the beginning, i.e., from their first contact with Christianity down to his connection with them, it had been presented to them. It was no subsidiary matter, such as the form of Church government, which could be held back for a time, but was the very essence of the message which had been delivered to them.
II. THE COMMANDMENT NEW. "Again, a new commandment write I unto you, which thing is true in him and in you; because the darkness is passing away, and the true light already shineth." Changing his point of view, he calls it a new commandment. Its being new is contemplated as inhering both in Christ and in them. It is new, because the darkness is passing away and the true light already shineth. What was this but the new light of Christianity, viz. the light introduced by Christ and spread among Christians? Granted that the duty had been known before, it had been greatly obscured. What an obscuration had there been of it in heathen life! And the light that had been shining in the laud of the Jews had been partial. It was only when Christ came and showed its perfect realization, that it could be said to be light having all the elements of truth. Realized in Christ, it was also being realized partially in his people. Thus, not in all places, but in many places, was the darkness giving place to the light, giving promise of the ultimate entire displacement of darkness and prevalence of light.
III. CONDITION OF FULFILLING THE COMMANDMENT, ABSENT. "He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in the darkness even until now." It is to be inferred that the condition of our loving our brother is our being in the light, i.e., as the element in which we live. It is not enough to say that we are in the light; saying must be taken along with acting, or the state of the feelings. Let a man's character be this, that he hates his brother (is even unsympathetic), he may say that he is in the light, but it is a moral impossibility. The light may have been shining widely around him, may have been shining around him for long years, but it has never yet penetrated his being and displaced his natural darkness. He is in that darkness even until now. This is John's way of putting the Master's lesson, "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord." Let us demand from ourselves reality.
IV. CONDITION OF FULFILLING THE COMMANDMENT, PRESENT, WITH BENEFIT. "He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him." The commandment is now stated positively; the condition is stated with a modification. "He that loveth his brother abideth in the light," i.e., is so related to the light as to have it continually penetrating his being. The advantage of being thus made loving by the light is that he has guidance at every step. He sees what lies in his path, and does not fall over obstacles.
V. CONDITION OF FULFILLING THE COMMANDMENT, ABSENT, WITH DETRIMENT. "But he that hateth his brother is in the darkness, and walketh in the darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because the darkness hath blinded his eyes." To the state formerly mentioned is added the corresponding walk. The walk of the unloving is in the darkness. He does not see what lies in his path, and may be tripped up at any moment. This follows with a double certainty. The surrounding darkness keeps him from seeing what is immediately before him; but that is not all. The darkness in which he has been moving has operated to destroy his spiritual vision, just as fishes in a dark subterranean cave are known to have become eyeless through long disuse of the organ. - R.F.
Parallel VersesKJV: Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning.