Sunday, 15 March 2020
My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.1 John 2:1
John begins Chapter 2 with, “My little children.” This loving way of speaking will be used quite a few times in this one epistle when he says either “My little children,” or simply “little children.”
By this time in his life, he was an aged man. It would thus be natural, as a father to his children, to address them in this personal way. Further, the word “little” is certainly included to show an even stronger bond than simply saying, “My children.” He is talking to them as if they were too young to protect themselves, and so he is giving advice concerning how to do so. That is seen in his continued words of the verse, beginning with, “these things I write to you.”
This is referring to everything he has written so far, but it then includes everything from this point on. He has given words concerning Christ, and he has spoken of sin. Now he will combine the two thoughts in this one verse and then continue to expand on what he says. He writes, “so that you may not sin.”
He has already shown that we have sin, and that we have sinned. Sin is the problem; Christ is the cure. The goal of the Christian is to not sin. However, his next words imply that the goal is not fully attainable. That begins to be revealed with, “And if anyone sins.”
It is a general thought which could apply to any person who has come to Christ. There is no distinction such as age, years in Christ, job title, or any other such thing. John simply leaves the possibility open that it could be anyone. But he then includes himself and the other apostles in the equation by saying, “we have an Advocate.”
John has gone from an indefinite pronoun, “anyone,” to the first-person plural, “we.” The “anyone” of the previous words has become personal – “you, me… anyone.” In essence, “Whoever sins, even if it is one of us, there is an Advocate there for us.” The word “Advocate,” is paraklétos. It is used only five times. The other four uses are in John 14, 15, and 16. Each of those four uses is referring to the Holy Spirit, but here it is referring to Jesus. Depending on the translation, He is called the Comforter, Helper, etc.
At the time of John writing this epistle, it was used to define someone who would give evidence which could stand up in court. The person providing it would be a legal advocate who would present this evidence because he was close enough to the matter to know the situation. John says that this Advocate is “with the Father.”
Jesus isn’t just an Advocate who represents man and stands with him, but He is intimately associated with the Father. There is a union between the two which allows Him complete access to the very presence of God. He can provide His evidence for us directly to God.
A fuller scope of what this means will come in the next verse, but for now it is to be understood that the closeness of Christ to us, and the closeness of Christ to the Father, reveals that there is a union between the three. As John says, this Advocate is “Jesus Christ the righteous.”
In the Greek, there is no article before “righteous.” Therefore, it would be clearer to say, “Jesus Christ the Righteous One.” Righteousness defines who He is. It is an assertion that in His humanity He alone is righteous before God. However, in His humanity, He is willing to stand with us before His Father.
Life application: In the first chapter, John was stating hypothetical cases which involved non-believers, but also which pointed to the life of believers. Here at the beginning of the second chapter, he switches to the term “My little children.” There is no doubt that he is addressing saved believers in his coming thoughts. He uses the term to show affection to those who are growing in the family of God.
The statement “so that you may not sin” is given in anticipation of keeping his readers from sin, but fully expecting that they will sin… “and if anyone sins…” This isn’t a contradiction in thought, but rather an understanding of our fallen nature.
This is no different than going to a sound biblical sermon today. The pastor who properly handles God’s word will give instruction in right living, proper behavior, and God’s expectations. However, he will also empathize with the struggles of the congregation and explain the importance of confession. If he is truly honest, he will even include his own regular failings and how he handles them.
The very fact that John brings in Jesus’ role as our “Advocate” proves that he knows sin will come. No one needs an advocate when they haven’t been charged with an offense. In the book of 1 Timothy, Paul calls Jesus our “Mediator.” Here John calls Jesus our “Advocate.” Although similar, it would be good to define both roles –
Mediator – a person who intervenes to bring about an agreement.
Advocate – a person who pleads for or in behalf of another: an intercessor or a lawyer.
As you can see, a mediator brings about an agreement between two parties, but an advocate pleads in defense of his accused. When we sin, we stand accused of violating one of God’s precepts. But Jesus, who has already taken our punishment, stands in defense of our failing – His scars are proof that the punishment has been meted out. When we are in Christ, the sins we have committed are covered by His righteousness.
Thank You, O God, for Jesus who stands as our Advocate when we fail to meet Your infinitely perfect standards. Forgive us of our transgressions, not because we deserve it, but because of what Jesus did for us on the cross when He satisfied Your righteous demands for us. Thank You for Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.