“Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” [1 John 2:3-4 (NKJV)].
These verses introduce a term that will appear over and again in this epistle. It will become one of the key words for us to learn. It is the verb ‘know’. It will appear in some form 12 times in this chapter and a total of 29 times in the epistle. The verb found in these verses is “ginosko” which implies a knowledge gained by personal experience. It is a knowledge not only of facts, but of intimacy in experience. For example, when Jesus said, in Matthew 7:23, “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!‘” He is saying, “I have no connection with you” or, “you stand in no relationship to me.” [See also Matthew 25:12 for the same intent, “But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’”].
John uses another term in clusters in 2:20-29, 3:2-15 and 5:13-20. The verb used in these clusters is ‘eidon’ and is found 14 times in this epistle. ‘Eidon’ suggests knowledge derived from perception. It also carried the idea of fullness of knowledge. No relationship is found between the observer and the thing known. It is knowledge for knowledge’s sake.
Gnosticism prevailed in many parts of the Greek culture in the time of John and its influence was likely one of the reasons for the writing of this epistle. Gnostics boasted of their superior knowledge of Christ, without emphasizing any need for a personal relationship with Him. Neither did they see the importance of keeping the laws of God. Twelve times in the John’s gospel Jesus declared that our relationship with Him had a direct relationship to observing His commandments.
In John 14:23-24 Jesus said, “…If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. 24He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me.” [See also, 14:15, 15:10, 14 and others].
John also uses a term in verse 3 that is a favorite of his. Instead of saying we should do the commandments, he uses the term “…keep His commandments.” He uses a word which describes a sentinel watching on the city walls, or a jailor who keeps watch over the prisoners in the cells. It literally means to watch, guard or to keep safe. This implies a hearty acceptance of Christ’s command; a willing subjection to their understanding that they are part of God’s will for you and me.
When a person has a personal and intimate relationship with Jesus, one will not find his commands grievous as John will say in 1 John 5:3, “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.” When love is the basis for our relationship with Him, doing His will, will not be a burden, but a joy. How do you react to the commands of God? Here is the test as to whether we truly know Jesus or not.
Prayer: O Lord, how precious are your words and the principles of love written into Your commands. We see Your character in these laws and we come to love and respect them because they reveal You to us. Thank you for your Word. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Pastor Ivan Schwenn – 2020-10-19