In studying 1 John there is the question as to what is the “new commandment”. John writes, “On the other hand, I am writing a new commandment to you, which is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true Light is already shining.” 1 Jn 2:8
Here is my musing on the verses: “1 John 2:7,8 and the old and new commandment. John says the old commandment is the word they have heard. But the new commandment is not the old commandment, but is something new. This new commandment is true in Christ and in the disciples. Why is the new commandment true in the disciples? Because, he says, the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. See the first down arrow? The new commandment is true in the Christians because the light is shining and the darkness is fading.
The new commandment is a commandment that is true in Christ. It is a commandment that is true in the disciples. How is a commandment “true” in somebody? When something is “true in a person”, it means it is confirmed in them. As we have been reading in the preceding verses and will read in the proceeding verses, there’s the commandment and then there’s the confirmation of the commandment in the disciples. They said they believed in Jesus and loved Him which was confirmed or manifested in the way they lived and walked. The commandments of Christ were confirmed in them, was “true in them”, because they did the things commanded. Was the “new commandment” confirmed in Christ because He kept it? Whatever was the new commandment, it was confirmed in Jesus. He did keep the commandments of the Father and do all that the Father sent Him to do. So what is the new commandment that was true, confirmed, in Christ and in the disciples?
Again, the reason this new commandment is confirmed in them is because the darkness is passing away and the light is already shining. The “out of darkness into light” wording seems to be saying it’s the confirmation that the new commandment is true in them. The next verse is perhaps the clue to the new commandment. In the next verse he says a brother is still in darkness when he hates his brother. Get it? Hate your brother and the new commandment is not true in you and you are still in darkness. But verse 10 says that the one that loves his brother is no longer in darkness. So in conclusion, because the brothers are not in darkness because the new commandment is confirmed in them, the new commandment must be to love your brothers and sisters in Christ.
“We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” 1 John 3:14-16.
Do you have thoughts on what is the new commandment? Do you agree that it is to love the Brethren? Thank you. Dan Mayfield
Here are some comments from others:
From William Cline, the Denton Lectureship:
“1 John 2:7
“Beloved, no new commandment write I unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning: the old commandment is the word which ye heard.” The phrase, “from the beginning,” which relates to the commandment John was discussing, has been understood in various ways. Augustine and others supposed it to mean “from the beginning of creation” which assumed John to be teaching that the law of love was imprinted on the mind of man as God created him. Others have believed the phrase to mean “from the beginning of the law” and point to the commandment in Lev. 19:18. A third interpretation, perhaps the more likely one, is “from the beginning of your life as a Christian.” The readers of John’s letter had heard this commandment, in the oral teaching which they had received, when they first heard the teachings of the gospel and became obedient unto the faith.
Far from being a new thing, this command was essential to their salvation from sin. This commandment to love was not new in that it was novel or unusual. It was the Word or the message they received when they learned the truth through the preaching of the Word of God. It was old only in the sense that it was one that belonged to the first stages of the Lord’s church.
Love and obedience are inextricably interwoven because all the commandments of God are summed up in the law of love. “You shall love the Lord your God” was the authoritative summary of the Old Testament (Deut. 6:5). When Jesus was asked what was the greatest commandment of all, he quoted Deut. 6:5, coupling it with the similar commandment of Lev. 19:18, stressing the necessity of loving one’s neighbor (Mark 12:28-31). Later the apostle Paul would underline this great lesson when he wrote, “For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (Gal. 5:14). A proper understanding and practice of love are essential to one’s living the Christian life.
John, therefore, in underlining afresh the law of love, was not telling his readers anything they did not already know. It was not some innovation but rather an “old commandment” which they had been taught from the beginning.
1 John 2:8
“Again, a new commandment write I unto you, which thing is true in him and in you; because the darkness is passing away, and the true light already shineth.”
Though the commandment of love is old in one sense, there is a sense in which it is new. Jesus gave the commandment from the Old Testament to “love one another” a new and deeper meaning when He said to them in the upper room, “A new commandment I give to you, that ye love one another …” (John 13:34a). It was new because of His own fulfillment of it. He gave it meaning which it had never possessed before. Not only were the disciples to love one another, but they were to love one another, “even as I have loved you, that ye also love one another” (John 13:34b). This commandment was new because it required a different measure than had been previously demanded. Never before had such love been mandatory for man. In the next verse Jesus said, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35). This is the standard of love that would be insisted on by the inspired writers, and especially in 1 John. Note in 1 John 2:8 — “which thing is true in him (Christ) and (in measure) in you.” This new standard of love was to be characteristic of the new age of Christianity. Men who were followers of Christ were to love as Christ had loved them, remembering that He loved to the extent that He was willing to give His life, not only for His friends, but even for those who hated Him.
The darkness of ignorance, error, superstition, and hate was passing and the true light which came from the Lord was shining, thus dispelling the darkness of unbelief. When men are brought to Christ through the preaching of the Word, they are brought into light and darkness passes away. Darkness has not all passed away, and our text does not so affirm. There is still much error in the world, but as truth is preached, light is extended and darkness recedes as a result thereof. True religion is often spoken of as light in contrast with error (John used this expression four times in this epistle, nine times in his gospel account and ten times in Revelation), and Christ spoke of Himself as the “light of the world” (cf. John 3:19-21). He stressed “he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12; cf. 1 John 1:4-10).”