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.” (I John 2:7-8)
Sometimes when we read the Scriptures, we may read a particular text which seems contradictory on the surface. A case in point is I John 2:7-8. John writes about a commandment which is not new but rather old. At the same time, it is new even though we have previously heard it in the past. What does John mean?
Within the context that obedience to God’s commandments is a biblical test for authentic faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ (I John 2:3-6), John wrote that this principle for the believer was not a new commandment. It was a biblical doctrine which was not recent, fresh, or unprecedented.
On the contrary, this commandment to love God and keep His commandments was an ancient commandment (Deuteronomy 6:1-9). In fact, believers in Christ possess this directive from the moment they are converted by grace alone, through faith alone in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone.
However, at the same time it is a new commandment because as the believer in Christ grows in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus (2 Peter 3:18), they begin to realize the various areas of their life in which they are disobedient to God. Therefore, they confess such sin and resolve to become increasingly obedient to God in another area of their Christian walk.
In harmony with 2 Corinthians 5:17, the darkness of sin, wickedness and evil increasingly departs from the believer. At the same time, the light of God’s holiness increasingly takes hold upon the believer’s mind, emotions and will.
Dr. John MacArthur writes, “John makes a significant word play here. Though he doesn’t state here what the command is, he does in 2 John 5–6. It is to love. Both of these phrases refer to the same commandment of love. The commandment of love was “new” because Jesus personified love in a fresh, new way and it was shed abroad in believers’ hearts (Rom. 5:5) and energized by the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22; 1 Thess. 4:9). He raised love to a higher standard for the church and commanded his disciples to imitate his love (“as I have loved you”; cf. 1 John 3:16; John 13:34). The command was also “old” because the OT commanded love (Lev. 19:18; Deut. 6:5) and the readers of John’s epistle had heard about Jesus’ command to love when they first heard the gospel.”
Have you ever found yourself reading a familiar portion of Scripture only to have an “aha” moment? “Aha” is an exclamation used to express satisfaction, triumph, or surprise. Regarding today’s text, a biblical text you have read many times possesses a meaning you never previously grasped. While an old commandment, it has new relevance and application due to the illuminating work of the Holy Spirit in your heart. The illumination does not change the meaning of the text but rather provides new significance and application within your life.
As you read the Bible today, ask God the Holy Spirit to illuminate the text you are reading in order to show you how it may accurately be applied in your life. Ask Him to grant you an insight into the text which you have not previously realized while others have.
May the Lord’s truth and grace be found here.
Soli deo Gloria!