Which thing is true in him and in you - It is true that Christ loved the world so well as to lay down his life for it; and it was true in them, in all his faithful followers at that time, who were ready to lay down their lives for the testimony of Jesus. There is a saying in Synopsis Sohar, p. 94, n. 51, that may cast some light on this passage: That way in which the just have walked, although it be Old, yet may be said to be New in the love of the righteous. The love that the righteous bear to God and to each other is a renewal of the commandment.
The darkness is past - The total thick darkness of the heathen world, and the comparative darkness of the Mosaic dispensation, are now passing away; and the pure and superior light of Christianity is now diffusing its beams everywhere. He does not say that the darkness was all gone by, but παραγεται, it is passing away; he does not say that the fullness of the light had appeared, but ηδη φαινει, it is now shining and will shine more and more to the perfect day; for the darkness passes away in proportion as the light shines and increases.
Again, a new commandment I write unto you - “And yet, that which I write to you, and particularly enjoin on you, deserves in another sense to be called a new commandment, though it has been also inculcated from the beginning, for it was called new by the Saviour himself.” Or the meaning may be, “In addition to the general precepts which I have referred to, I do now call your attention to the new commandment of the Saviour, that which he himself called new.” There can be no doubt here that John refers to the commandment to “love one another,” (see 1 John 2:9-11), and that it is here called new, not in the sense that John inculcated it as a novel doctrine, but in the sense that the Saviour called it such. For the reasons why it was so called by him, see the notes at John 13:34.
Which thing is true in him - In the Lord Jesus. That is, which commandment or law of love was illustrated in him, or was manifested by him in his contact with his disciples. That which was most prominent in him was this very love which he enjoined on all his followers.
And in you - Among you. That is, you have manifested it in your contact with each other. It is not new in the sense that you have never heard of it, and have never evinced it, but in the sense only that he called it new.
Because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth - The ancient systems of error, under which people hated each other, have passed away, and you are brought into the light of the true religion. Once you were in darkness, like others; now the light of the pure gospel shines around you, and that requires, as its distinguishing characteristic, love. Religion is often represented as light; and Christ spoke of himself, and was spoken of, as the Light of the world. See the notes at John 1:4-5. Compare John 8:12; John 12:35-36, John 12:46; Isaiah 9:2.
“Herein is My Father glorified,” said Jesus, “that ye bear much fruit.” God desires to manifest through you the holiness, the benevolence, the compassion, of His own character. Yet the Saviour does not bid the disciples labor to bear fruit. He tells them to abide in Him. “If ye abide in Me,” He says, “and My words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.” It is through the word that Christ abides in His followers. This is the same vital union that is represented by eating His flesh and drinking His blood. The words of Christ are spirit and life. Receiving them, you receive the life of the Vine. You live “by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:4. The life of Christ in you produces the same fruits as in Him. Living in Christ, adhering to Christ, supported by Christ, drawing nourishment from Christ, you bear fruit after the similitude of Christ. DA 677.1
In this last meeting with His disciples, the great desire which Christ expressed for them was that they might love one another as He had loved them. Again and again He spoke of this. “These things I command you,” He said repeatedly, “that ye love one another.” His very first injunction when alone with them in the upper chamber was, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” To the disciples this commandment was new; for they had not loved one another as Christ had loved them. He saw that new ideas and impulses must control them; that new principles must be practiced by them; through His life and death they were to receive a new conception of love. The command to love one another had a new meaning in the light of His self-sacrifice. The whole work of grace is one continual service of love, of self-denying, self-sacrificing effort. During every hour of Christ's sojourn upon the earth, the love of God was flowing from Him in irrepressible streams. All who are imbued with His Spirit will love as He loved. The very principle that actuated Christ will actuate them in all their dealing one with another. DA 677.2
This love is the evidence of their discipleship. “By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples,” said Jesus, “if ye have love one to another.” When men are bound together, not by force or self-interest, but by love, they show the working of an influence that is above every human influence. Where this oneness exists, it is evidence that the image of God is being restored in humanity, that a new principle of life has been implanted. It shows that there is power in the divine nature to withstand the supernatural agencies of evil, and that the grace of God subdues the selfishness inherent in the natural heart. DA 678.1Read in context »
There is a power here for us that will bring in the light of heaven to our dark world. Christ has been in heaven, and He will bring the light of heaven, drive back the darkness, and let the sunlight of His glory in. Then we shall see, amid the corruption and pollution and defilement, the light of heaven. 1MCP 21.2Read in context »
Light! Light! Let it shine forth everywhere. It is to be diffused in jots and tittles, here a little and there a little. It is to be diffused in contrast with error. There is a dense darkness upon human minds, and everything possible should be done to rend it away and let the true Light shine forth. PM 227.4Read in context »
The faithful apostle saw that their blindness, their pride, superstition, and ignorance of the Scriptures were riveting upon their souls fetters which would never be broken. The prejudice and hatred against Christ which they obstinately cherished, was bringing ruin upon them as a nation and destroying their hopes of everlasting life. But John continued to present Christ to them as the only way of salvation. The evidence that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah was so clear that John declares no man needs to walk in the darkness of error while such light is proffered him. SL 63.1
John lived to see the gospel of Christ preached far and near, and thousands eagerly accepting its teachings. But he was filled with sadness as he perceived poisonous errors creeping into the church. Some who accepted Christ claimed that His love released them from obedience to the law of God. On the other hand, many taught that the letter of the law should be kept, also all the Jewish customs and ceremonies, and that this was sufficient for salvation, without the blood of Christ. They held that Christ was a good man, like the apostles, but denied His divinity. John saw the dangers to which the church would be exposed, should they receive these ideas, and he met them with promptness and decision. He wrote to a most honorable helper in the gospel, a lady of good repute and extensive influence: SL 63.2Read in context »