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1 John 2:17 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
17 The world is passing away, and its lusts; but the one who does the will of God remains forever.

The world is passing away. Everything properly constituting this world where Christ is excluded. The reference here does not seem to be so much to the material world as to the scenes of show and vanity which make up the world. These things are passing away like the shifting scenes of the stage. Anything that is contrary to the values found in God’s Word.

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And its lusts. All that is here is so much the object of desire. These things are like a pageant, which only amuses the eye for a moment and disappears forever.

but the one who does the will of God remains forever. This cannot mean that he will never die, but it means that he has built his happiness on a basis that is secure and which can never pass away.

By Albert Barnes

2:17 The heart of John’s argument is now given. This final verse of the section “contrasts the outcomes of these two loves, two lives, and two orientations toward Life.” When compared with a life lived in the will of God, the things this life has to offer are really empty imitations of God’s best. The things of the world seem to be of great value, but they are worthless when compared to the eternal blessings that come from doing the will of God. Jesus Christ in his death and resurrection has defeated the world that is opposed to God and has secured life eternal for those who believe.

John links the believer’s confession of faith to his conduct by using the phrase “the one who does the will of God remains forever” to describe who will be a part of God’s eternal kingdom. This idea of doing the will of God is closely linked to Jesus’ mission in the Gospel, for there are several occasions where Jesus explains that he only takes action in accordance with the will of the Father (4:34; 5:30; 6:38; note particularly that involving eternal life for believers in 6:39–40; 7:17). It is likely that John is again exhorting the readers to live as Jesus lived while he was on this earth, that is, solely focused on doing the will of the Father (2:6). As Culpepper notes, “Victory is assured, resistance is required.”

This passage has a clear eschatological focus that emphasizes that the things of the world, even the Earth itself, will one day pass from the scene, just as the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining (2:8). The kingdom of God on earth was inaugurated in the death and resurrection of our Lord, and it will be established forever with his return. The eschatological nature of this verse provides a fitting transition to John’s discussion of the antichrists who have departed from the community in 2:18–19.[1]

[1] Daniel L. Akin, 1, 2, 3 John, vol. 38, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2001), 111–112.

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