Saturday, 4 April 2020
I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and that no lie is of the truth. 1 John 2:21
The tense of the verb used here indicates that John is referring to this epistle and not the gospel he previously wrote. Not only that, it is more specifically referring to this particular section of the epistle – that dealing with the antichrists and their teachings. With that in mind, he says, “I have not written to you.” The intent is, “I have not written to you as I have done.” It is an introductory thought for the words, “because you do not know the truth.”
He is fully confident that his audience does know the truth, and his writing was for an entirely different purpose than simply giving them instruction so that they can know the truth. Rather, his instruction will be that they can discern what that truth encompasses, and to further develop their understanding of it.
In other words, someone can know a truth – “This is a ball and it is blue.” However, knowing truth about a matter doesn’t mean a person knows all truth about that matter. “This is a faux pig-skin football that is dyed cerulean blue to match the school color of Kane High School in Farmer’s Branch, Texas.” Indeed, knowing this, there still may be any number of things that he doesn’t know about the ball. “It comes from Wang Chung, China. It was paid for by Seale Enterprises in Christchurch, New Zealand. It is guaranteed to not deflate for at least five minutes after first use. And so on.”
John is writing to those who know the truth about a truth they are aware of and understand. They “know” this truth, meaning they have apprehended it and are (hopefully) living according to it. As he next says, “but because you know it.”
As noted, John didn’t write the things he has written because they were unaware of what he was saying. Rather, they know – on some level – what he has said. Now, and with having inserted these words of introduction into his thought, he then completes the thought with, “and that no lie is of the truth.”
This is an interesting thought. The word pseudos, or lie, is actually not that common in the New Testament. It is only found 10 times, and the only time John has used it before this verse is in John 8:44 –
“You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.”
Even the verb form, pseudomai, is only found twelve times. The only time John has used it so far is in 1 John 1:6 –
“If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.”
As can be seen, John has been speaking of both antichrists – as well as light and darkness – in this chapter, corresponding to the lies of the devil and light and darkness in this verse. The themes – truth/lies, Christ/antichrist, light/darkness, etc., are all united in John’s mind. Therefore, what seems like a sudden, even abrupt, introduction of truth/lies isn’t that abrupt at all.
Simply defined, truth is that which corresponds to reality. Anything which does not correspond to reality, therefore, is untrue. It doesn’t matter how reasonable or plausible something may appear, if it does not actually correspond to reality, it is not truth. One can see the etymological similarity to our modern word “pseudo.” We have pseudo leather, for example. It may appear real, it may smell real, it may feel real, and so on, but if it is not leather, it is pseudo leather.
John is instructing his reader on truth, because there can only be one truth in theology. With this understanding, he will return to the subject of Christ/antichrist so that our level of truth (that which we already know) can be increased. We may already know the truth, but we may not know all of the truth. This is why John is writing. He is developing our thoughts through his understanding of the Incarnate Word of God – Jesus Christ – who is the embodiment of Truth.
Life application: John indicates that what he has written is not because his readers don’t know the truth, but that they know it. He has obviously already told it to them, and he is reminding them of it. Not only this, but there is no “secret” truth which is discernible to only a select few. Rather, God’s truth is available to us through His word, and we have that truth for individual and corporate study. We are not to be misled that we don’t have the truth available to us.
Further, the truth is that “no lie is of the truth.” As we saw, the devil is the father of lies and all lies stem from him. In contrast, God is absolute truth. Being fully God, Jesus claimed to be the embodiment of Truth. This being the case, His words, His gospel, and His Being are absolute truth. No lie comes from Him. Also, no lie is of Him, or about Him, as is recorded in the Bible. We have God’s complete and absolute word for the matters of faith and doctrine in the pages of the Holy Bible.
If you are confused about biblical matters, it is wise to get varying opinions from teachers, pastors, commentaries, and devotionals. But it is also wise to ask God to lead you to the truth of what is being analyzed. This is because there are so many interpretations of what is being said, but only one truth. We are individually responsible for our doctrine and, in the end, we stand or fall on the truth being revealed in the pages of the Bible. If we get it wrong, we may end up in an unhappy spot on the day we face our Lord.
Yes Lord, please give us proper understanding concerning the contents of each and every passage we study. Let us not be misled by poor analyses of Your word, but rather may Your Spirit lead us to teachers who will provide us with a right understanding of the truth as You have relayed it. We ask these things so that our doctrine will be pure in Your eyes. Amen.