1 John 2 v 7 - 11

The whole emphasis in John's letters is love. He addresses those to whom he writes as 'Beloved'. Whilst enforcing the commandment of love, he gives expression to it: John had learned to speak the truth in love. There are rebukes here, but it is all done from a loving, pastoral heart. John writes of the new commandment which was also old, Jesus had proclaimed: ''I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. JUST AS I HAVE LOVED YOU, you should love one another.'' That commandment was old in the sense that it was already there in the Old Testament. Leviticus 19 v 18 exhorts the reader to 'Love your neighbour as yourself'. Reminding ourselves of passages like that demonstrate how important it is to read the Old Testament, because we see that the New reflects the Old and Jesus spoke from a thorough knowledge and understanding of the Old and consistently in line with the teaching of the Old. That commandment was also new, in that it had been raised to a completely new standard in the life of Jesus and in that in the way He expressed His love for the most unlovable people and in His willingness to love, despite at times so much vitriol in response to His love. Here is the man who cried out, ''Father forgive them'' as He hung on the cross, put there by indifference, the crowds' wickedness and the deathly hatred of the Jewish religious leaders. John goes on to state that the commandment to love one another is the highest truth. Through obedience to this command, the people of God were bringing light where there was once only darkness. Remember that John was writing towards the end of the first century and the Church was no longer expecting Christ to return at any moment as it did in Paul's day. For John, the Second Coming was to be demonstrated not so much by one sudden, dramatic event, but by a process in which darkness is steadily defeated by light: hate being destroyed by love!

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