“Dear friends, I am not writing a new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have already heard”.
In 2.3-6, John has started to talk about the idea of obedience and the fact that what you do in relation to what God has said is very important. This begs the question then, what is God asking of me?
In v.7, John starts by framing this all in love: “Ἀγαπητοί”, beloved, dear friends…His readers knew then, and we know now, that whatever follows is being said in love, not rebuke. So, what is God seeking from us in obedience?
“…I am not writing a new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have already heard”.
This old commandment, then, is something that has been said before. It’s something that is no surprise to his readers. It’s something, perhaps, so inescapably attached to the core teachings of this new and radical way of looking at life and one another that the catalyst of this radical new way of life will have said it Himself.
“Jesus said to him, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. The second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the law and the prophets depend on these two commandments”.
(Matthew 22.37-40, NET, emphasis added)
So, in love, John his telling is readers – and you – that the biggest way they demonstrate their obedience to God is to love Him with all their heart, soul, and mind, and to also love their neighbor as themselves. This is the old commandment he speaks of: loving God and one another.
John’s point is becoming clearer, isn’t it? The single biggest way to demonstrate your obedience to God is to keep this commandment that you have already heard and this, as we said, is the single biggest way to demonstrate that you actually do have genuine fellowship with, and faith in, God.