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Brotherly Love: I John 2:7-11

I John: LIGHT/LOVE
Brotherly Love: I John 2:7-11
Pastor John Weathersby
Sunday January 16, 2022

Today we see that not having a particular love for the brethren is counter to Christ’s life and command.

The message John is going to deliver is tough.  Tough enough that he qualifies the message in verses 7 and 8 (setting up our understanding of the connection between Jesus’ commands darkness and light), gives a negative side of the conclusion in 9, a positive side of the conclusion in 10, then wraps it up from the negative in 11.  In 11, a complete understanding of Jesus as light and the implications of walking or not walking in them relative to dark and light.
 
Each has a consequence, and John describes that.
 
Sometimes seeing in the positive and negative helps give a fuller perspective; however, the conclusion in verse 11 is so firm the preamble of verses 7 and 8 helps it land on a ready audience. 
 
1 John 2:7–11
The New Commandment
7 Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard.
8 At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining.
 
7 Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard.
 
John has addressed the “little children” and instantiates his pastoral care, but here the beloved.  2:7 is the first use in the Epistles of this word translated as “beloved.” It is agapetos.  Used 61 times in the NT meaning dear/beloved, or one who is loved – here are some uses that help see the gravity of agapetos:
 
Matthew 3:17 (ESV)
17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
 
Luke 20:13 (ESV)
13 Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my beloved son; perhaps they will respect him.’
 
Romans 1:7 (ESV)
7 To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
 
Very very frequently, “love” is used to carry the mighty weight of the love of God for the elect. Knowing from the Romans example that those “loved by God” are saints helps us understand a post-Christ/church age view of the beloved. For instance, we read that Philemon is:

Philemon 16 (ESV)
16 no longer as a bondservant but more than a bondservant, as a beloved brother—especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.
 
He is beloved, deeply treasured as he is found in Christ, and so then this weighty message in verse 11 is written TO the elect believers in John’s focus.  Remember, these elect believers had some who left their number and are following hard after gnostic ideas, that there is some secret knowledge that allows them to live sinlessly – this message isn’t the gospel, it is another gospel. 
 
The gravity of “other gospels” erodes at the very message by which people are turned from their sin, redeemed and made new in Christ’s sacrifice, and joined to God so important that Paul wrote to the church:
 
Galatians 1:8 (ESV)
8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.
 
Dealing with false apostles, Paul said:
 
2 Corinthians 11:2–3
2 For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ.
3 But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.
 
He is saying that false apostles would be like the serpent of Genesis 3, trying to misdirect God’s word.  John comes to the beloved with a concern writing them “no new commandment,” we said last week that this concept of “commandment” wasn’t the law given at Mt Sinai – rather it was like
 
1 John 1:10 (ESV)
10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
 
Or 1 John 2:6 (ESV)
6 whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.
 
Or 1 John 2:4 (ESV)
4 Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him,
 
John encourages his reader to abide in Christ to follow His commands that this is evidence of salvation.  If I say I believe something but act counter to that thing should look – you’d have to question DO I believe that?  Not having a particular love for the brethren is counter to Christ’s life and command.
 
7 Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard.
 
The old commandment understood in Christ’s perfect fulfillment isn’t new in time, and is the commands that in Christ (where the beloved are now and forward eternally) is how John encouraged us to walk and abide:
 
1 John 2:6 (ESV)
6 whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.
 
He continues in this preamble, which must eventually carry the weight of verse 11.
 
8 At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining.
 
After John’s own understanding from Christ:
 
John 13:34 (ESV)
34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.
 
And more clearly as well as aligned to John’s line of thinking:
 
John 15:12 (ESV)
12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
 
As what is true and perfect in Christ is in us, as we practice and walk out the newness of the Christian life
 
John 10:10 (ESV)
10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
 
Colossians 2:6 (ESV)
Alive in Christ
6 Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him,
 
Galatians 5:25 (ESV)
25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.
 
Living in Christ’s commands, who satisfied the law fully, results in brotherly love and fellowship.  These describe abiding in Christ and are fruit of the same.  These are part of what draws us to gather weekly and during the week, as in us, the darkness of life outside Christ in sin and separated from God fades we’re pulled elsewhere.  That is the evidence of Christ in us. John lays a foundation here that as we turn to abiding fellowship and the love of Christ in us is demonstrated in and among the brethren as it did in Christ.
 
9 Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness.
 
This is an important concept and part of the positive reflection that John gives us in understanding walking in the light of Jesus’ love for the brethren who make up His Church.
 
Pay attention to the not subtle, not so subtlety in Galatians 6:10
10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.
 
Matthew 12:46–50 (ESV)

Jesus’ Mother and Brothers
46 While he was still speaking to the people, behold, his mother and his brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him.
48 But he replied to the man who told him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?
49 And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers!
50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”
 
Finally, Paul in Romans 13:8
8 Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.  Those of us who ultimately:
 
Romans 13:14 (ESV)
14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.
 
Who is “each other” in Romans 13:8?
 
10 Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling.
 
This is why the letter to the Galatians said of love that:
 
Galatians 5:22 (ESV)
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
 
Romans 5:5 (ESV)
5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
 
As John is encouraging his readers to walk in Christ and truth and working against Gnosticism, it is fitting that “brotherly love” would be a theme (1John 3:11-18, 4:7, 4:11, 4:20, 5:1)

1 John 3:11-18 (ESV)
Love One Another
11 For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.
12 We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous.
13 Do not be surprised, brothers,[a] that the world hates you.
14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death.
15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.
16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.
17 But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?
18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

1 John 4:7, 11, 20 (ESV)
God Is Love
7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.
11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot[a] love God whom he has not seen.

1 John 5:1 (ESV)
Overcoming the World
1 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him.

10 Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling.
 
Love of the brethren is evidence of abiding in the light.  If you recall, v8 introduces this light concept.  It said that:
 
“the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining.”
 
The darkness is the cold inability to walk in love like Cain and Abel, knowing light since the beginning of one’s salvation is a passing of darkness and shining in the light.  Abiding (staying living being the light gives us no cause for stumbling. 
 
Why is John so smart on this?  He had a great teacher.  Remember this is all abiding in Christ by following His commands right:
 
John 11:9–10 (ESV)
9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world.
10 But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.”
 
You’ve been there in the literal and figurative way, right?  You’ve hit that bottom stair at night and thought there was one more.
 
Worse, perhaps you’ve not acted “in Christ” with a Christian brother or sister.
 
John 12:35 (ESV)
35 So Jesus said to them, “The light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going.
 
Walking in the light of Jesus’ commands, here to love the brethren, leaves us with clearer vision, without “cause for stumbling.”   A hidden trigger for a trap because our focus and desire is the love of Christ for those with whom we have Christian fellowship. 
 
11 But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes.
 
Hating who?  This is an important conclusion, hating – “his brother.”  Who, you may ask, is my brother? Glad you asked:
 
Matthew 12:46–50 (ESV)
Jesus’ Mother and Brothers
46 While he was still speaking to the people, behold, his mother and his brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him.
48 But he replied to the man who told him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?
49 And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers!
50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”
 
Hating the brethren demonstrates one is in the darkness and walking in the darkness. What does that mean, then? What can we conclude from that?
 
They are lost, and the darkness has blinded them. 
 
John is talking about someone who habitually, continually, and as a manner of fruit has no Christian love and fellowship, they’re lost – they’re not a believer. 
 
This verse picks up from verse 9b, he who hates his brother is still in the dark, and gives the negative view of 10, in the light of love for the brethren, in Christ, not in the light of love, not in Christ. 
 
The best way to interpret scripture doesn’t flow from a creative writing class, but from scripture, it’s self, so let’s conclude there.

 As you consider this passage today, this evening, and this week, read this up, and against Romans 13:8-14, it is an expanded view of the Christian life of love in Christ and an encouragement to walk in Christ as a reflection of His love in us.

Romans 13:8-14 (ESV)
Fulfilling the Law Through Love
8 Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.
9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
11 Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed.
12 The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.
13 Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy.
14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

And 1 Corinthians 13:1-3, I leave you and conclude here with a description of love from scripture:
 
1 Corinthians 13:1–3 (ESV)
The Way of Love
1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Pray, Observe, Apply.

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