Verse 21 – Not to inform, but to reinforce
21 I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth. (1 John 2:21–ESV)
One time the apostles came to the community and told of what Jesus had done. When they bore witness to Jesus to these communities, they were informing them of significant events which had happened. When they first heard it was new; they did not know. When they heard, however, they accepted and were anointed into the body of the church.
The false teachers who at one point left the main body of the church have not run too far away. They have set up their shop nearby and now return with their heresies making runs at the church. These new proselytizers are bringing a new message, one of deceit. John says that the church members know the truth. It was already theirs. He tells them, “There was no lie in those original teachings.”
A pizza type example
In the Summer of 2017, a restaurant called Your Pie came to North Augusta, South Carolina. They specialize in craft pizza. It is terrific! Well, guess what happened in 2018? Another restaurant called Mod Pizza began across the river in Augusta, Georgia. These are pretty much the same types of pizza shops. Great food, but a bit “me too!”
It is one thing to market similar pizzas, but another thing to put up a new religion. New packages of religious beliefs were sprouting up around the Eastern Meditteranean back in John’s day. John wrote to tell them, “Hey, the first spiritual pizza you received was the right spiritual food. You know this. The original message had no lie. Keep it. Choose no other.”
Verse 22 – Lies lying around
22 Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. (1 John 2:22–ESV)
The initially given message had no lie, but that does not mean all things are right. Lies lie around but get peddled as truth. John gives a simple test that gets right to the crux of the matter. “Look at what they teach about Jesus,” he indicates. There you will quickly get to the bottom of things. Do they deny that Jesus is the Messiah? Is Jesus the anointed one of God the Father? That tends to uncover a lot of things quickly.
The false teachers who had gone out from among them did just this.
Verse 23 – It is what it is.
23 No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also. (1 John 2:23–ESV)
What if a person figures they will skip Jesus and just take God the Father? That will be their religious vantage point. John stands like a referee saying, “Foul!” John says that they cannot be divorced. What God has put together let no man take apart. Jesus and God are part of the same package. John said this as an emissary who had walked the streets of Palestine with the man Jesus. He stood as a witness to the life of Jesus. More he stood as a witness to his death, burial, and resurrection. That which had God put together is that way like it or no.
Accept the son and get the father. Skip the son and skip the father. I once had a tech who when facing facts we did not like in the clinic would say, “It is what it is.” That applies here too.
Verse 24 – Rest for your souls
24 Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father. (1 John 2:24–ESV)
There is something about beginnings. The people of the churches who would receive this letter of John came from a variety of Jewish and Gentile backgrounds. They heard the message of Jesus and the message resonated with them. Personal connections between God and each person were established. Some of these accepted the word quickly and with vigor while others came more slowly. Despite the pathways taken each developed a real faith. The word of God began to abide in them.
Now, however, some counterfeits have cut in on them undermining the faith-frameworks that bolstered and supported them. John is sending this letter to root out these spiritual termites infusing the weak areas with a hardening agent giving back their sturdiness.
John begins this verse with a word that could be a command or a request. He says, “Let what you heard…abide.” The tenor of this book suggests that the word let would be a request. John is not out with his bulldozer, but rather he is taking the members of the church for a walk. On that walk, he has been pointing out a lot of things. “Look here; look there,” he says. As they see the pieces fall back into place, John says, “Let those things abide in you. Don’t go off on a doubt spree.”
He concludes this verse by saying, “If you let these things abide in you something will happen. You will find that you abide with Jesus and with God the Father.” John is not making a statement about eternal security. He is not saying, “Abide or you will lose your salvation.” He is saying, “Abide and find rest for your souls.”