by Mike Ratliff
1 Τεκνία μου, ταῦτα γράφω ὑμῖν ἵνα μὴ ἁμάρτητε. καὶ ἐάν τις ἁμάρτῃ, παράκλητον ἔχομεν πρὸς τὸν πατέρα Ἰησοῦν Χριστὸν δίκαιον· (1 John 2:1 NA28)
1 My little Children, these things I write to you so that you do not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous. (1 John 2:1 translated from the NA28 Greek text)
Perfection is not obtainable for anyone is this life. The only perfect person who ever walked this Earth was the Lord Jesus Christ and the reason He could be perfect and was perfect is that He is deity. Part of His mission was actually to perfectly keep the Law in order to be the propitiation and only acceptable sacrifice in the Father’s eyes in place of those He came to save. We see this in the following verses.
2 καὶ αὐτὸς ἱλασμός ἐστιν περὶ τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ἡμῶν, οὐ περὶ τῶν ἡμετέρων δὲ μόνον ἀλλὰ καὶ περὶ ὅλου τοῦ κόσμου.
3 Καὶ ἐν τούτῳ γινώσκομεν ὅτι ἐγνώκαμεν αὐτόν, ἐὰν τὰς ἐντολὰς αὐτοῦ τηρῶμεν. 4 ὁ λέγων ὅτι ἔγνωκα αὐτὸν καὶ τὰς ἐντολὰς αὐτοῦ μὴ τηρῶν, ψεύστης ἐστὶν καὶ ἐν τούτῳ ἡ ἀλήθεια οὐκ ἔστιν· 5 ὃς δʼ ἂν τηρῇ αὐτοῦ τὸν λόγον, ἀληθῶς ἐν τούτῳ ἡ ἀγάπη τοῦ θεοῦ τετελείωται, ἐν τούτῳ γινώσκομεν ὅτι ἐν αὐτῷ ἐσμεν. 6 ὁ λέγων ἐν αὐτῷ μένειν ὀφείλει καθὼς ἐκεῖνος περιεπάτησεν καὶ αὐτὸς [οὕτως] περιπατεῖν. (1 John 2:2-6 NA28)
2 And He is the propitiation for our sins, not for our sins only, but also for the whole world. 3 And this we know that we have known Him, if we keep His commands. 4 The one saying, “I have known Him” and he does not keep His commands is a liar and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoever keeps His word, truly in this one the love of God has been perfected, by this we know that we are in Him. 6 The one claiming to abide in Him ought to walk as He walked. (1 John 2:2-6 translated from the NA28 Greek text)
What is an advocate? I translated the noun παράκλητον as “an advocate” in v1. Here it is the Accusative, Singular form of παράκλητος or paraklētos, “one who is called to someone’s aid; i.e. counselor, helper, advocate.” In 1 John 2:1, the context of παράκλητος is to the Father on our behalf for the occasions when we sin. John depicts Jesus in this role. As Christians, we can feel confident that Christ will never leave us. Jesus Himself takes up the cause of believers in the presence of God the Father. Otherwise, their sin would bring judgment upon them.
We have studied the word “propititiation” before. In v2, I translated the noun ἱλασμός as “the propitiation.” This word, ἱλασμός or hilasmos, means “a sacrifice that bears God’s wrath and turns it to favor.” This is exactly the atoning work Christ did on behalf of His people at the Cross.
What does it mean that He is the propitiation – ἀλλὰ καὶ περὶ ὅλου τοῦ κόσμου – but also for the whole world? This does not mean that every person will be saved. The Bible no where teaches that. The Apostle John himself clearly teaches that forgiveness of sins comes only to those who repent and believe the gospel (1 John 2:4, 23; 3:10; 5:12; John 3:18; 5:24). So what does this mean? Jesus sacrifice is offered and made available to everyone in ὅλου τοῦ κόσμου – the whole world. This is talking about the free offer of the Gospel to everyone.
What a precious thing it is to know that we are not left on our own to attempt to obey and remain faithful and hope that we will be found faithful enough when we finally stand before our Lord. No, if we are in Christ, the evidence will be plain in this life as John clearly shows in these verses. Also, since none of us are perfect, our Lord Himself is continually operating as our Advocate before the Father. What a promise and blessing to those of us who are His!
On the other hand, John wasn’t kidding around in vv3-6. Those who are truly in Christ truly abide in Him and their walks will be marked by that fact. The opposite is true as well. Think of all those professing Christians out there who claim it, but whose lives are marked by the world and its ways. I listened to a debate a few years ago between Bart Eherman, an agnostic, and another fellow who is a believer, but who really should be doing something else. Eherman’s stance on most of arguments of the fallibility of Scripture and the lack of evidence of the deity of Christ and His resurrection, et cetera are based upon his own scholarship. Yep, that’s right. It’s because he said so. When challenged, he says that the majority of Biblical scholars agree with him. He them names them and they are all agnostics or atheists like him, however, he claims they are Christians in good standing in their denominations so that makes them Christians. He also said that if Jesus and the Apostles where here right now that they would side with him and would not recognize the “Christianity we call Evangelical Christianity” as being what they taught. Instead, they would be liberal agnostics like him.
My brethren, if Bart Eherman is a Christian and those he is sided with are Christians then I am Peter Pan. All you have to do is compare what the man says and believes with what our Lord and the Apostles themselves said marks what is true belief and what isn’t and it is as obvious as the sky is blue that the man is as lost as they come and so are those who believe as he does. He actually said in his rebuttal that his position of agnosticism is true Christianity and our position of faith is false Christianity. I was simply astounded that anyone could be that obtuse. Satan does indeed speak through those who belong to him.
What we must do is continue to stand in the gap, tell the truth and explain why it is the truth and what most who believe a lie are believing a lie and why what they are believing is a lie. Some of us are called to do this. I am certain that the longer the Lord tarries the more that this will be prevalent and that means that each of you may have to do so as well. Are you prepared?
Soli Deo Gloria!