1 John 2:6-8
New English Translation
7 Dear friends, I am not writing a new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning.[e] The old commandment is the word that you have already[f] heard. 8 On the other hand, I am writing a new commandment to you which is true in him[g] and in you, because[h] the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining.[i]Read full chapter
- 1 John 2:6 tn The Greek verb μένω (menō) is commonly translated into contemporary English as “remain” or “abide,” but both of these translations have some problems: (1) “Abide” has become in some circles almost a “technical term” for some sort of special intimate fellowship or close relationship between the Christian and God, so that one may speak of Christians who are “abiding” and Christians who are not. It is accurate to say the word indicates a close, intimate (and permanent) relationship between the believer and God. However, it is very important to note that for the author of the Gospel of John and the Johannine Epistles every genuine Christian has this type of relationship with God, and the person who does not have this type of relationship (cf. 2 John 9) is not a believer at all (in spite of what he or she may claim). (2) On the other hand, to translate μένω as “remain” removes some of these problems, but creates others: In certain contexts, such a translation can give the impression that those who currently “remain” in this relationship with God can at some point choose not to “remain”, that is, to abandon their faith and return to an unsaved condition. While one may easily think in terms of the author’s opponents in 1 John as not “remaining,” the author makes it inescapably clear in 2:19 that these people, in spite of their claims to know God and be in fellowship with God, never really were genuine believers. (3) In an attempt to avoid both these misconceptions, this translation renders μένω as “reside” except in cases where the context indicates that “remain” is a more accurate nuance, that is, in contexts where a specific change of status or movement from one position to another is in view.sn The Greek word μένω (menō) translated resides indicates a close, intimate (and permanent) relationship between the believer and God. It is very important to note that for the author of the Gospel of John and the Johannine Epistles every genuine Christian has this type of relationship with God, and the person who does not have this type of relationship (cf. 2 John 9) is not a believer at all (in spite of what he or she may claim).
- 1 John 2:6 tn Grk “in him.” Context indicates a reference to God since a different pronoun, ἐκεινος (ekeinos), is used later in the same verse to indicate a reference to Jesus. See the note on “Jesus” later in this verse.
- 1 John 2:6 tn That is, ought to behave in the same way Jesus did. “Walking” is a common NT idiom for one’s behavior or conduct.
- 1 John 2:6 tn Grk “that one.” Context indicates a reference to Jesus here. It is clear that ἐκεῖνος (ekeinos) here does not refer to the same person as αὐτῷ (autō) in 2:6a. The switch to ἐκεῖνος indicates a change in the referent, and a reference to Jesus Christ is confirmed by the verb περιεπάτησεν (periepatēsen), an activity which can only describe Jesus’ earthly life and ministry, the significance of which is one of the points of contention the author has with the opponents. In fact, ἐκεῖνος occurs 6 times in 1 John (2:6; 3:3, 5, 7, 16; and 4:17), and each one refers to Jesus Christ.
- 1 John 2:7 sn See John 13:34-35.
- 1 John 2:7 tn “Already” is not in the Greek text, but is supplied for clarity.
- 1 John 2:8 tn “In him” probably refers to Jesus Christ since the last third person pronoun in 2:6 referred to Jesus Christ and there is no indication in the context of a change in referent.
- 1 John 2:8 tn The clause beginning with ὅτι (hoti) is often taken as (1) epexegetical or (2) appositional to the commandment (ἐντολήν, entolēn) giving a further explanation or clarification of it. But the statement following the ὅτι is about light and darkness, and it is difficult to see how this has anything to do with the commandment, especially as the commandment is related to the “new commandment” of John 13:34 for believers to love one another. It is far more likely that (3) the ὅτι clause should be understood as causal, but this still does not answer the question of whether it offers the reason for writing the “new commandment” itself or the reason for the relative clause (“that is true in him and in you”). It probably gives the reason for the writing of the commandment, although R. E. Brown (Epistles of John [AB], 268) thinks it refers to both.
- 1 John 2:8 sn The reference to the darkness…passing away and the true light…already shining is an allusion to John 1:5, 9, and 8:12. Because the author sees the victory of light over darkness as something already begun, he is writing Jesus’ commandment to love one another to the readers as a reminder to (1) hold fast to what they have already heard (see 1 John 2:7) and (2) not be influenced by the teaching of the opponents.