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1 John 2:24-25 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
24 As for you, let that remain in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning remains in you, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. 25 And this is the promise which he himself promised us: eternal life.

2:24. As for you, let that remain in you. Adhere steadfastly to it; let the truth obtain a permanent lodgment in the soul. Given its great importance and its influence on your happiness here and hereafter, let it never depart from you.

Which you have heard from the beginning. That is, the same doctrines that you have always been taught respecting the Son of God and the way of salvation.

You also will remain in the Son and in the Father. Truly united to the Son and to the Father; or having evidence of the favor and friendship of the Son and the Father.

APOSTOLIC FATHERS Lightfoot

2:25. And this is the promise which he himself promised us: eternal life. This is evidently added to encourage them to adhere to the truths they had embraced, respecting the Son of God. In maintaining these truths, they had the promise of eternal life; in departing from them, they had none, for the promise of eternal life in our world is made only to those who embrace the truth about the Father, the Son, and the Word of God as a whole. No one can show that any promise of eternal life is made to the mere possessor of beauty, or wealth, or talent; to the accomplished or the happy; to those who are distinguished for science or skill in the arts; to rank or birth, or blood; to courage or strength. Any expectation of eternal life anyone may entertain on account of any of these things must be traced to something other than a promise, for there is none in the Bible to that effect. The promise of eternal life to men is limited to those who repent of their sins, believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and lead a holy life; if anyone will base his hope of eternal life on a promise, it must be limited to these things. And yet what well-founded hope of eternal life can there be, except that which is based on a promise? How does anyone know that he can be saved unless he has some assurance from God that it may and shall be so? Is not eternal life his future? How does anyone know that may dwell forever without some assurance from him that he may? Is not the crown of life his gift? How can anyone know that he will possess it unless he has some promise from him? However, men may reason, or conjecture, or hope, the only promise of eternal life is found in the Bible, and the fact that we have such a promise should surely be a sufficient inducement for us to hold fast to the truth. On the promise of life in the gospel, see John 17:2; Rom. 2:6-7; Matt. 25:46.

By Albert Barnes and Edward D. Andrews

David Walls and Max Anders write,

2:24–25. The false teachers have brought forth radically new teaching based on their “secret” knowledge. That is unnecessary. John’s word is nothing new but what they have heard from the beginning. He challenges us to hold fast to the tried and true Word of God delivered once and for all to the saints. If we do, we will remain, or abide (in the sense of fellowship) in the Son and in the Father. Only then can we rest in the promise of eternal life.

The issue here is not a concern about losing our salvation. We can be certain that we possess eternal life (2:1–6; 5:9–13, 20). The issue is reassurance in face of the false teaching they were receiving. False teaching brings questions about our salvation; true teaching based on God’s Word from the beginning reassures us of our salvation.[1]

Digging Deeper with Daniel L. Akin,

2:24–25 John begins his exhortation emphatically by using the personal pronoun, hymeis in a forward position. He emphasizes to the believers in the community that they are to make sure that what they have heard from the beginning remains in them. Placing this pronoun in a forward position also serves to draw a distinction between the true believers and the secessionists [those who left the faith], who are liars and antichrists. What they have heard from the beginning most likely refers to the original apostolic message they heard at the time of and prior to their conversions (cf. 2:7). But we cannot exclude a possible reference to the teaching of Jesus himself (cf. Mark 1:14–15; Eph 2:17) or his preexistence with God the Father (1:1; John 1:1; 17:24). In addition, there is a connection between the abiding of the message in them and the abiding of the anointing. Both are continuous following their reception by the believer. The two work together as the Christian stays in communion with both the Father and the Son.

Young Christians

John is so concerned that what they heard from the beginning remains in them that he repeats himself (this repetition is unfortunately not obvious in the NIV, which reduces it to “if it does”). Repetition reinforces the urgency of the teaching: Do not move away from the word you heard from us.[2]

The verse concludes with the promise that if this condition is met, the believer will continue to remain in the Son and in the Father. Three times in this verse some form of the word “remain” is used (again the NIV loses this emphasis). As with the first two parts of this verse, John uses the pronoun hymeis for emphasis and in a forward position. This relationship in which the Christian remains in God is vital, intimate, and constant. The order of the Son and the Father places the emphasis on the person of Jesus Christ, through whom the believer has access to the Father. Smalley notes, “If this good news be allowed to direct the theological thought and moral practice of the individual disciple, the outcome is a deep fellowship with both the Son of God and God himself.”[3]

AN ENCOURAGING THOUGHT_01

The initial kai (and) in v. 25 indicates that John is relating a further blessing that comes from abiding in what we have heard from the beginning. This pledge (note the present tense form of eimi) is made available to all who believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. The antecedent of the pronoun “he” (autos) could be either the Father or the Son. Functionally, eternal life is a promise that comes to the believer from God through Jesus Christ. This interpretation makes sense given the mention of both the Father and the Son in v. 24 and the reciprocal relationship of the Father and the Son that John has stressed in this section of the epistle.[4]

John reveals the content of the promise that is made available to the Christian: eternal life. This promise echos the promises of life that Jesus makes in the Gospel (3:14–15, 36; 4:14; 5:24; 6:40, 47; 8:51; 17:2; 20:31). The reference to eternal life is both that of the future promise of eternal life with the Father and the Son and the present experience of abiding in God the Father and in Jesus Christ. No either/or interpretation is necessary. The eschatological perspective of both the Gospel of John and the epistle takes into account the present and future aspects of salvation unto eternal life, secured in the death and resurrection of Jesus the Messiah. In the present the abiding presence of Jesus Christ and the Father give evidence that the power of sin and death has been defeated and that the believer has moved from the darkness into the light and now possesses eternal life. This defeat of sin and death in the cross and resurrection also secures a future eternal dwelling place with the Father and the Son in the kingdom of God.

2:26 M. Luther said, “Those who teach new doctrine rarely return.” John explains that the preceding exhortation to hold fast to their initial reception and understanding of Christ was meant to strengthen them in their quest to withstand the pressure to follow the secessionists away from the truth and down their pathway to destruction. The deceptive characteristics of the ones that John has previously called antichrists and liars again come clearly into view in this verse. They are not content to rush into error by themselves. Their goal is to bring as many as they can along with them. The use of the present tense participle alerts the readers to the reality that the secessionists are still a threat to the koinonia of the community and that they must be taken seriously. Brown explains, “The secessionists are Antichrists embodying the apocalyptic expectation of the Antichrist; they are liars embodying the apocalyptic expectation of the Liar; even so they embody the great deception of the last times.”[5]

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[1] David Walls and Max Anders, I & II Peter, I, II & III John, Jude, vol. 11, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1999), 178.

[2] Smalley, 1, 2, 3 John, 199; Marshall, Epistles of John, 160.

[3] Smalley, 1, 2, 3 John, 119.

[4] Smalley, 1, 2, 3 John, 121; Brown, Epistles of John, 358. Brown notes that the emphatic nature of the pronoun should lead one to the decision that Jesus is the antecedent, based upon the fact that Jesus has been the center of the controversy in the past few verses and that it is Jesus, not the Father, whom John needs to emphasize.

[5] Daniel L. Akin, 1, 2, 3 John, vol. 38, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2001), 123–125. Smalley, 1, 2, 3 John, 121–22; Schnackenburg, The Johannine Epistles, 148; Hiebert, “Exposition of 1 John 2:18–28,” 87.

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